Yellowstone National Park 2013 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
16 April - 30 April 2013
~ April 2013 ~
Tuesday - 16 April
I had a nice drive thru West Yellowstone, Bozeman, and Livingston still going the long way to Yellowstone. At 1:50 p.m. I had a grizzly viewed from Hellroaring Overlook. At 3:05 p.m. I spotted old Scarface north of Fisherman's Pullout, and he actually crossed the road from north to south and headed towards the river. At 4:15 p.m. we watched a grizzly south and east of Footbridge Pullout. At 5:40 p.m. I saw a young grizzly running up a snow bank north of Coyote Overlook (not in view for long). At 8:05 p.m. another grizzly viewed at Hellroaring Overlook. Today's high was 31 degrees. I had two moose at Round Prairie and another moose near Petrified Tree. The bighorn sheep are everywhere this year, spreading out quite a ways from the rocks and cliffs they are usually on. Dale and Elva counted pronghorn antelope one day and came up with 115 from Gardiner to Slough Creek.
Wednesday - 17 April
I stayed in Mammoth for the majority of this trip until the last five days which I spent near Silver Gate. 16 degrees this morning with a high of 28 degrees. I saw my first unita ground squirrel for the year today, but by the end of this trip lots more were showing up. At 6:45 a.m. I spotted a grizzly viewed from Hellroaring Overlook near the Basalt Cliffs. At 9:00 a.m. we watched a gray wolf of the Junction Butte pack chasing elk on Mom's Ridge viewed from Boulder Pullout. At 10:00 a.m. I spotted a grizzly north and west of Slough Creek. At 10:15 a.m. three gray wolves of the Junction Butte pack in view from Slough Creek (Puff the alpha male, ragged tail the alpha female and the new gray male). At 10:20 a.m. Sian from the UK spotted two grizzlies wrestling near the Slough Creek den (great spot, only the tops of the bears in view). After a nap they came into better view and appeared to be a sow with a two year old cub. At 11:00 a.m. middle gray of the Lamar Canyons was spotted chasing elk north of Slough Creek. (Note: the main Lamar Canyon wolves are outside of the park in Wyoming and assumed to be denning over there. However, middle gray is back in Lamar. In the coming days a black yearling now almost two years old came back to join her and a unidentified gray male called big gray is around but very cautious around the roads). At 1:15 p.m. we had a black bear on Garnet Hill. Also at 1:15 p.m. I found a grizzly viewed from Elk Creek running near Little Buffalo Creek to the east. At 1:20 p.m. a second black bear on Garnet Hill. At 7:20 p.m. the black bear sow with two brown yearling cubs on Garnet Hill viewed from Upper Hellroaring Pullout.
Thursday - 18 April
14 degrees this morning with a high of 44 degrees. At 5:50 a.m. I spotted a grizzly on the new carcass in the Blacktail Ponds (the first carcass was from the winter and eaten by grizzlies on my first visit. Then another bison just two years old drowned in the same place just a week or so ago). Like most bears at Blacktail it was gone before the light got good. At 11:00 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m. middle gray was in view in the Lamar Valley. Doug M. from Silver Gate had her cross in front of him near Fisherman's Pullout and she went all the way back to the traditional Druid/Lamar Canyon den site. She was not seen much after today, everyone assuming that she is denning in that area. At 1:35 p.m. we watched the black sow with two brown yearling cubs on Garnet Hill. At 3:55 p.m. I spotted a grizzly in the rocks north and East of Slough Creek. At 4:00 p.m. a grizzly low north of Slough Creek (a very brief sighting).
Friday - 19 April
33 degrees this morning. The west gate opened this morning at 8:00 a.m. And the campground fees went up signaling the end of the winter season. At 5:35 a.m. I watched a grizzly on the carcass in Blacktail Ponds. Again it moved off crossing to the south before daylight. Doug M. from Gardiner was out this morning and made the early spots. He first found a new carcass from Hellroaring that was pretty much gone. Then he located a grizzly coming towards and finally arriving at the carcass (guess who, yep Scarface). Then he located another grizzly slowly leaving the area heading west. Before he left he pointed out two whitetail deer in the clearing below Hellroaring, unusual to see them in this area. I had a three dog day today, with an extra fox thrown in (one at Boulder Pullout and one at Hellroaring Overlook. At 10:15 a.m. we finally located five (3 gray and two black) of the Junction Butte wolves on the slopes of Hellroaring, having heard howling before that. As they moved up the opening they ran into a herd of elk that must have been close to 100. Puff, the alpha male started the chase and for the first time I picked the right wolf (most chases involve several different wolves chasing different sub herds of elk, I usually pick one that does not catch anything). The chase lasted a good 5-8 minutes with Puff catching a last year’s calf by the throat but forced to release to hold when the cow elk and a few others pushed him off his hold. The chase continued to the east and then towards us to the north. Sometimes the calf would get 20 yards or so ahead of Puff, but he closed the distance again grabbing the throat. After hanging on for 50 to 100 yard the calf went down, only to get up for one final time. It took 10 -15 minutes for the rest of the pack to find and join Puff on the carcass. The best elk chase I have seen in a long time. Interesting that in the afternoon they finished the carcass and four went to the east and the black pup went to the west. At 1:30 p.m. we watched a black bear sow with one black yearling across from Junction Butte (the forest area near the Yellowstone Picnic area). At 1:55 p.m. we had a black bear on Garnet Hill. At 3:30 p.m. the black bear sow with two brown cubs on Garnet Hill.
Saturday - 20 April
33 degrees this morning with a high of 48 degrees. We had light snow this morning that with the fog made for poor viewing and no accumulation. At 5:45 a.m. the grizzly on the Blacktail Ponds was already leaving the Carcass. At 11:30 a.m. we spotted a gray wolf on the Junction Butte pack a long ways up the Hellroaring clearing from the Pullout. At 1:30 p.m. I spotted a black bear on Garnet Hill. At 4:10 p.m. I spotted a grizzly low and on the west end of Garnet Hill (I have never seen a grizzly on Garnet, and I never saw the black bear sow with two brown cubs after that, must have moved off.). At 4:35 p.m. we watched a black bear sow with one black yearling cub to the east of the Yellowstone Picnic area. At 4:40 p.m. we found a dark grizzly north of the river from east of Long Pullout. At 4:50 p.m. we watched a grizzly near the aspen/conifer island north and west of Slough Creek (beyond the bottoms). At 5:00 p.m. we had a grizzly north of Slough Creek near the drainage and tree line to the north. At 5:35 p.m. I found a large grizzly north of Coyote Overlook. At 7:50 p.m. we watched a second black bear on Garnet Hill.
Sunday - 21 April
32 degrees this morning with a high of 52 degrees, but snowing just before dark. I saw a couple of golden eagles and my first kestrel of the year today. At 8:15 a.m. we had a grizzly digging south of the Institute on the bench. At 8:30 a.m. we had another grizzly digging north of between Coyote Overlook and Dorothy's Pullout about 150 yards off the road. At 12:20 p.m. I spotted a bedded grizzly north and west of Slough Creek that woke up and moved out of sight to the north. At 4:30 p.m. we watched the black yearling female south of Footbridge Pullout.
Monday - 22 April
20 degrees this morning and snowing with a high of 32 degrees. At 3:25 p.m. I found a grizzly straight north of Slough Creek. At 6:00 p.m. the two and only two of the Blacktail Pack were found near the carcass of the famous #10 elk that was killed by the Canyon wolf pack yesterday. The rangers have moved the carcass from near Wraith Falls and very close to the road to a nice hill to the south of Blacktail Deer Creek. These wolves are both collared but also both gray making finding them difficult. Several times they had been spotted near the roads anywhere between Frog Rock and Floating Island Pond. This was the first and only time I got to view these wolves. Calvin and Lynette had them in view but a snow storm moved in before I arrived. Thanks to Sian from the UK who located them from the S pullouts near Frog Rock.
Tuesday - 23 April
13 degrees in the campground but only 2 degrees by the time I got to Blacktail Ponds. A high of 43 today. This was my moose day. Two at Petrified Tree, a cow and a calf at the confluence and seven more moose at Round Prairie. Bob L. told me of grizzly tracks in the snow at Trout Lake this a.m. from the snow of yesterday. It looked like a sow and yearling, but not sure. At 10:05 a.m. we had a grizzly south of the Institute digging on the bench. At 1:00 p.m. I got a call from Alan and Kristy from the UK saying they had a grizzly from Hellroaring Overlook being chased by a herd of bison. I was at Slough Creek when they called and it took me 26 minutes to get there, but the grizzly was still in view moving to the west and finally out of sight. At 1:20 p.m. I spotted a black bear on Garnet Hill.
Wednesday - 24 April
25 degrees this morning with a high of 53 degrees but with the breeze it felt colder. At 6:30 a.m. Scarface crossed the road just east of Long Pullout. He was taking his time with no need to rush. At 7:15 a.m. we had a smaller grizzly near the carcass in Slough Creek. We finally guessed this was a bison carcass since we had bears and wolves on or near it for the next few days. I did get my first and so far only tick today. At 7:30 a.m. I found a larger grizzly chased off the small grizzly on the Slough Creek carcass. At 9:00 a.m. the black two year old wolf from Lamar Canyon pack was on a bison carcass at Exclosure just across the river. Good viewing even after the ranger put up the no stopping and bear closure signs. At 12:00 noon we had a gray wolf feeding on the carcass at Slough Creek. At 1:35 p.m. we found a black bear on Garnet Hill. At 6:20 p.m. we watched a grizzly in Little America near wolf #9's old den.
Thursday - 25 April
30 degrees this morning with a high of 58 degrees. Around noon the resident herd of 15 or so bighorn sheep rams decided to bed in the Yellowstone River picnic area. I also had a three dog day with my fox near the Northeast Entrance. From 7:00 a.m. to about noon the Slough Creek carcass had continued action. At early light a grizzly sow with a large two year old cub had the carcass. Then Puff, new gray, 870F and a black wolf pushed the grizzlies from the carcass, but only for a few minutes. Soon two separate and larger grizzlies came in from the north with the larger one taking possession of the carcass. Now we had four grizzlies and four wolves most of the time in sight as they moved around and bedded waiting for the larger grizzly to leave. Later two other larger grizzlies came from the north and surveyed the area, finding the big grizzly on the carcass then moved back north and out of sight. At 10:30 a.m. we had a grizzly grazing in Crystal Drainage. At 5:15 p.m. I spotted a grizzly on Norris Mountain viewed from the confluence. At 8:05 a.m. we watched a large dark grizzly south of the middle pullout in the Soda Butte Valley.
Friday - 26 April
Another three dog day with wolves, coyotes and a fox again near the Northeast Entrance. It was 26 degrees this morning. At 6:35 a.m. I found a grizzly south of Slough Creek near Specimen Ridge. From 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. we had four separate grizzlies in the Slough Creek carcass area. The larger dark grizzly still had the carcass with what looked like the sow with two year old cub and another medium sized grizzly waiting for the large ones departure. We also had the same four wolves of the Junction Butte pack (Puff, 870F, the dark female, and new gray) around the carcass area. At 6:00 p.m. we watched a black bear just off the road at Lower Hellroaring/the double pullouts.
Saturday - 27 April
30 degrees this morning and warming up to 65 degrees today. I had three moose in Round Prairie just before first light and just off the road. Between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. there were three grizzlies near the Slough Creek carcass area with a fourth coming in after I left the area. The sow with one two year cub was back with a larger grizzly on the carcass. We has four wolves in sight and then had two more come in from the north. Puff, 870F, 890M, ragged tail, and one black and one gray. A lot of action this morning with Puff in the lead decided to pick on the 2 year old cub. They put him in the mud near the creek and kept it there for the longest time. The cub would try to come up the bank only to be rushed by the wolves, usually Puff in the lead. Also with ragged tail there this morning she picked on 870F and pinned her a lot. 870F was the alpha before she hurt her neck but now ragged tail is the alpha and she wanted 870F to know that. At 8:30 a.m. we had a grizzly in Crystal Creek. I received a call that they had a bear and a den in Pebble Creek. McNeil L., a tour guide, was trying to find mountain goats for his clients and found a grizzly sow coming out of her den. This was later calculated to be 2.6 miles from the road and probably over 9,000 feet in the middle of what is still a snow field. Needless to say, I spent most of today and the next days of this trip in Round Prairie watching. The grizzly sow would only come out once in a while. Sometimes hours before she would make an appearance. She never left the den site by over 50 feet. While viewing the grizzly sow at 2.6 miles, Calvin and Lynette called me to the Pebble Creek campground. I was in a bad parking place so headed down to them. They had a small grizzly walking thru the parking lot and I arrived as it was moving away. Later it crossed the road into Round Prairie and found an old tire which it played with in the creek for a couple of minutes (I missed that). At 5:00 p.m. one cub of the year (COY) was spotted at the den site when mom was a few feet out of the den.
Sunday - 28 April
41 degrees this morning but 55 degrees for a high, however, the breeze made it feel colder. Another three dog day today. Had three moose in the evening in the campground. And during the times the sow was back inside the den, Jack G. found us 14 mountain goats in the area of the den. At 5:40 a.m. we had a large grizzly just off the road on the east end of the Soda Butte Valley. At 7:00 a.m. we still had three grizzlies in the Slough Creek carcass area, however, the carcass either got moved 100 yards to the south or there was a new carcass in the area. Lots of new bird activity however the carcass was out of sight from our viewing spot. Along with the three grizzlies we had five wolves (3 gray and 2 black) of the Junction Butte pack in the area again this morning. At 8:20 a.m. we had the grizzly I call the Scarface look alike was near Aspen Pullout. This grizzly has a torn up face, red ear tags, and a collar that is difficult to see, however, a short and smaller grizzly than Scarface. At 9:15 a.m. I spotted a dark grizzly heading north of the Slough Creek viewed from Boulder Pullout. At 4:30 p.m. we had the grizzly sow at the den with at least two COYS. My friends Ralph N, Jack G, and Wayne K. believe that they counted 3 COY's.
Monday - 29 April
39 degrees this morning with a high of 44 degrees. Waiting for the grizzly to come out of the den, I had my first Rocky Mountain Dipper for the year. At 8:30 a.m. the black two year old wolf of the Lamar Canyon's was south of Footbridge Pullout. She and the tall gray had had a carcass near the river south of Hitching Post. But today apparently they had a new carcass in the same area. The first carcass was a bull elk with its antlers still on it. At 8:35 a.m. I spotted a large dark grizzly on Dead Puppy Hill viewed from Footbridge Pullout (apparently it had been to the carcass earlier). At 9:00 a.m. Bob L. went to the east and called in a grizzly approaching Footbridge from the east. Yep, it showed up close 60 yards or so and crossed the Lamar River Bridge and moved slowly to the south and west. At 9:30 a.m. I watched the grizzly sow at the den site on Thunderer viewed from Round Prairie.
Tuesday - 30 April
27 degrees this morning and around 40 when I left for home. After hours of watching, at 12:15 p.m. the grizzly sow came out of the den at Pebble Creek. After 4-5 minutes it returned without any COY's to be seen. Earlier we had a cow moose and last year’s calf cross the clearing at Round Prairie. At the west end of Lamar Canyon we had a big bear jam. Slowing only a little, it was Scarface 75 yards to the north of the road. Around 2:30 p.m. three miles south of Indian Creek Campground, I watched an uncollared gray wolf of the Canyon Pack on the road heading north. According to Laurie L. the mangy tail wolf has been doing this quite regularly.
People seen on this trip. Wolf watchers: Rick M., Laurie L., Kathy L., Ray Liable and Kathy, Emily, Mark and Carol R., Calvin and Lynette from Kansas, Alan and Kristy from the UK, Larry and Linda from Wyoming, Doug M. from Silver Gate, Bob and Elizabeth from Montana, Marlene from Utah, Sian and her mother Phil from the UK, Richard from Utah, Ellie from Germany, Joe from California, and Colleen from the East Coast. Bear watchers: Ralph N, from Montana, Doug M. from Gardiner, Roger and Kaye E. from Idaho, Jack G from Bozeman, Carma and Jennings from Idaho, and The Rich Family (Greg, Tracie, Megan, Ryan, Kyle and Tyler) from Montana. Others seen this trip: Scott and Peggy from Idaho, Ed who mans Mount Washburn for fires in the summer, Bob L., Wayne K., Carl S., Nathan V., McNeil L., Kevin S. (the Bearman), Jim H. from Gardiner, Jim and Judy W. from Montana, Peter M. from Montana, Ken T. tour guide, Jim and Bobbie from Colorado, Dale and Elva from Oregon, Tonya M. from Montana, Norm B., Joseph and Rain who I usually see in Glacier, Ed Alexander, and Pam and Denny from Utah.
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