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Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

24 - 26 September 2010

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ September 2010 ~

Black bear by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Friday - 24 September

It was unusually warm weather for this time of year in Yellowstone. Highs in the high 60's, lows only around 36 degrees. Clear skies and a little light breeze, great weather for the weekend. I left work just after noon, and with little traffic made good time until the road construction between Madison and Norris. They are getting close to finishing, but quite a delay today getting through this area. The leaves are turning everywhere, really a lot of nice colors. I had twelve bighorn ewes and lambs at Calcite just off the road. The road between Canyon and Tower was still closed so I had to go through Mammoth to get to Lamar Valley. There was a large bear jam in Little America near the Specimen Ridge trail. Folks were enjoying a great view of a nice grizzly eating the small bushes half way to the tree line. All the Lamar Canyon wolves were supposed to be in their rendezvous area, but viewing was pretty difficult with the high grass and sagebrush. Just before it got too dark a couple pups were seen roaming the shorter yellow grass clearings just across Slough Creek. I did have a black bear high in the Lion Meadow. Most of the campgrounds had been filling up around noon, but Tower still had openings probably because of the fire. I spent both nights at Tower Campground.

Saturday - 25 September

It was around 36 degrees at daylight. With the cool temperature and a steady breeze from the South, it made viewing time for the pups a short one. Only found a dark almost black fox across Slough. So by the end of the day it would be a three dog day. Warming up, I headed to Lamar Valley with the heater on high. Above Midpoint and north of the road, the entire Lamar Canyon Pack was out (three adults and four pups). They had a small herd of elk on the cliff. One nice bull, about 5 cows and 2 calves. I'm not sure what the plan was for the elk if the wolves pressed the issue, but they didn't. The bull chased off the wolves several times. Around noon I headed for Canyon and the Hayden Valley. They had opened the road at 7:00 a.m. (probably because the fire was down a lot and it was a free admission day for the park). The fire came really close to the road, burning right to Antelope Creek for about 1/2 mile. The fox ridge and east were all burned with some burnt areas even on the east side of Antelope Creek.

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved
I spent about two hours at Grizzly Overlook in Hayden Valley, spotting nothing. I then moved to the south and found a large bear jam near the Wildlife Overlook at the south end of Hayden Valley. Old Scarface (my guess) was on a bison calf across the river. He laid on it most of the time, occasionally getting up the chase off a raven. Around 4:00 p.m. the entire Canyon Pack came out of the trees and confronted the grizzly. All six members were there, 3 adults and 3 pups. The confrontation didn't go well for the wolves, as Scarface charged them twice then turned his back on them and proceeded to bury the carcass. The wolves milled around and bedded in the sagebrush, except one gray and one black pup made a trip to the river. Nice viewing. I talked to several people who had seen Scarface at Obsidian Cliff two days before and the Virginia Cascades the day before on Friday. He traveled pretty far for an old grizzly.

Sunday - 26 September

I headed for Lamar Valley this morning. The wolves appeared to be in the same place as yesterday, north and east of the Institute. There were a lot of people out looking for wildlife. I glassed around and located a grizzly sow with two cubs of the year (coy's) in the clearing we call The Bell, way south of the Institute. It was a long ways to watch, but good light. We only found the two males of the pack, but the 06 female was seen by others. When I left they were still looking for the pups. We were fortunate and heard a lot of howling by the adult wolves. Maybe the pups had enough of Lamar Valley and headed back to Slough Creek.

Other News

Other news. Lots of things closing now. This was the last weekend for Norris, Pebble and Tower Campgrounds. The Tower Store has already closed. I spotted a lone blue heron on the Madison River on the way out. I also saw a fox on the road leaving camp Sunday morning, so I had two three dog days in a row.

Wolves near Canyon by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

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