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Trip Report ~ Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

29 April - 02 May 2011

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

~ April & May 2011 ~

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

Friday - 29 April

I left work for the last time just after noon, I have retired! Cool day with showers moving thru but a nice drive up to Yellowstone. Still lots of snow in the west, south and northeast portions of the park. I had a beautiful fox on Tower Hill on the way in. Only one bear for the night, a black bear in good condition near the Yellowstone River Bridge. I stayed at Mammoth for the night.

Saturday - 30 April

There was about 2 inches of snow on the car roof in the morning. Roads were pretty good. I headed out to Lamar and at 6:34 a.m. and had a grizzly on the old carcass at Confluence. They have had bears on that carcass for 12 days now. The thinking is that maybe an elk and a cow moose were killed in the same area near the confluence. The carcass is out of sight and a calf moose is still hanging around the area near the Lamar River. During a brief snow shower I found a grizzly across the river to the north viewed from Boulder Pullout. At 11:15 a.m. there were wolves on Junction Butte. A THREE DOG DAY! The Agate Wolf pack had killed an elk on the south side of Junction Butte. They were coming down hill and then going up on top and out of sight on Junction Butte. Quite a bit of howling and activity going on. One black wolf crossed the road to the south. Another went east and tried to cross but headed back. Later five of them were spotted bedded near the Yellowstone River viewed from Boulder. At 6:00 p.m. I had a different grizzly coming to the carcass at the confluence. Then an uncollared gray yearling followed it into the carcass area. A couple brief encounters and I left them at the carcass. I decided to stay outside Silver Gate for the evening. Dan and Cindy came by and reminded me that a large grizzly that killed an elk in the field in Silver Gate was still there. I was sleeping a quarter mile from there. Restless night as I could imagine a late night visitor. Cool in the a.m. about 13 degrees.

Sunday - 01 May

That's my cousin ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

I headed for the confluence and found a grizzly on the carcass. This was the grizzly from last night and it appeared to have frost on his back. Soon a second grizzly arrived, darker and about the same size as the first grizzly. They met and for 2-4 minutes stood on their rear feet and wrestled. They separated without incident and went their separate ways. Meanwhile I found a gray wolf trying to cross the road just west of Hitching Post. A second gray appeared north of the road and moved west and out of sight. The first gray returned north out of sight. I headed east and found Rick looking north from Coyote Overlook. I found a carcass and he found wolves bedded in the sagebrush. It ended up being three elk carcasses in a ravine, all only a few yards apart. Only the middle carcass had been opened up. It ended up being 754M and three gray yearlings. At least one of wolves stayed in the area all day. A couple from Jackson spotted another grizzly from Coyote Overlook. A nice sized bear across the Lamar River and basically across from the Institute. I had heard rumors of more grizzlies to the west so I headed that way. A large crowd had a grizzly on a carcass just out in front of Wrecker Overlook. About 35 large still photographers watched from 100 yards at a grizzly with what looked like only one eye and battered ears. It moved away down the river and someone found two black wolves across the river. Never did determine their pack, could have been the two black yearlings from Agate Pack (in fact they were back on the Junction Butte carcass earlier), or it could have been Blacktails as they were in the area but unseen this morning. There was also a large red ear tagged grizzly in the Tower Junction flats. Just digging away, and provided nice viewing for hours. I headied back to the Coyote Overlook carcasses was delighted that a large grizzly had come over the hill from the northwest and eventually found the carcass.

It didn't stay long (my guess he was disturbed by the visitors in the pullout - carcass only about 350 yards from the road - he would look over our way lots of times). It left after less than 10 minutes on the carcass and went straight up and over the hill to the north. No easy feat as the snow is still over a foot or two high in that area. I decided to head west in the evening planning to get a good night's sleep at Mammoth Campground tonight, and a hot meal for the first time this trip. I stopped at Upper Hellroaring Overlook and was excited to find a black bear and two cubs of the year (COY'S) on the west/north side of the hill. Boy are they small this time of year. The sow had them up a 6 - 7 foot rock and in a small tree. She wanted to move, so she encouraged them to come down, that not working she cuffed at each and forced them to fall down the rocks one by one. I left them for a burger in Gardiner as she was nursing them.

Monday - 02 May

Last night was above freezing in Mammoth. I headed out to the carcasses north of Coyote Overlook and was surprised that nothing was on it. Rick spotted the Agate wolf pack on the skyline on Specimen Ridge viewed from Coyote Overlook (small at that range). I headed to the confluence to find both grizzlies had left for the day. I found one straight south going over a 2 foot snow patch. The second grizzly was heading over dead puppy hill. Other critters: A cow and calf moose in Round Prairie Saturday night, two moose in Blacktail Ponds on Monday. The lone calf moose across from the confluence Monday morning. Lots and lots of bighorn sheep this year. A group of rams and ewes have been right at Wrecker Pullout and sometimes near the road. My first pronghorn antelope in Lamar on Monday morning. I watched a group of 6-7 chased by a gray yearling wolf from Lamar Canyon pack on Sunday (the chase wasn't even close - the antelope won of course). Lots of eagles on the carcasses, mostly goldens but also balds. Lots of sandhill cranes everywhere. Seeing a lot, hearing more of them.

Moose in Winter ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Mouse at Nature Trail ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston
Mouse by Nature Trail watching the Coyote
Yellowstone Sunset ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

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