Yellowstone National Park 2013 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
03 thru 15 May 2013
~ May 2013 ~
Friday - 03 May
I left after breakfast with the old work crew and made good time with little road construction and little traffic. I had three trumpeter swans in Island Park. I found a fox on the way in also. High of 55 degrees in the northern range. At 11:30 a.m. I spotted a black bear west of Garnet Hill. At 1:30 p.m. I found a brown grizzly south of the Institute moving west. At 1:45 p.m. we had a dark grizzly digging south of the Institute. A 4:10 p.m. there was a small grizzly north of the Soda Butte east pullout. At 4:40 p.m. I spotted a grizzly sow with two cubs of the year (coys) on Calfee (the far clearing viewed from the confluence looking south and slightly east over Norris). I think it was the sow with two coys that had left the den above Pebble Creek Campground yesterday at 4:00 p.m. (the only coys I saw on this trip). At 5:30 p.m. we found a grizzly just east of the Crystal Drainage. At 5:40 p.m. we had a grizzly straight south of the Slough turnoff in Crystal Drainage. At 5:50 p.m. we watched a grizzly in front of the aspen/conifer forest/island north and west of Slough Creek. At 6:30 p.m. I found a small dark grizzly in the rolling hills west of Slough Creek and it crossed the creek and ended up in lion meadow. I stayed all my nights near Silver Gate except the last night I spend outside Gardiner.
Saturday - 04 May
36 degrees this morning with a high of 55 degrees. At 7:45 a.m. Scarface the 23 year old grizzly came in from the west to an old carcass in Slough Creek. It's the fastest I have seen him move in years, running the last 50 yards of so to the carcass that did not have much left of it. At 8:10 a.m. I spotted a grizzly digging in Crystal. I found a badger running around at boulder pond today. At 9:20 a.m. we had a grizzly south of Soda Butte Cone. At 1:30 p.m. there was a small grizzly digging and grazing at the Petrified Tree (strange place for a grizzly). At 1:55 p.m. I found a black bear on Garnet Hill. At 2:20 p.m. Margaret found a grizzly viewed from the pullout near Petrified Tree just west of Little Buffalo in the Hellroaring clearing. At 4:20 p.m. my last sighting was a dark grizzly south and east of Dorothy's Knoll.
Sunday - 05 May
A three dog day today and three moose mainly in the Round Prairie area and a beaver at the confluence. Low of 36 degrees and a high of 65 degrees. At 7:30 a.m. I spotted a grizzly in the same clearing in Crystal as yesterday. At 8:00 a.m. the new gray male and 869F near the old carcass in the Slough Creek bottoms. At 11:30 a.m. the black bear sow with one black and one brown yearling cubs near #9's den in Little America. At 12:00 noon after losing sight of the black bear family a small grizzly fed across the same clearing. As we watched the grizzly disappear we saw black high in a nearby tree, and after the grizzly left the sow and cubs came out of the tree. At 1:45 p.m. a black bear with two brown yearling cubs were near the Petrified tree. At 5:00 p.m. we watched a grizzly in the high clearing on the skyline south of Boulder Pond. At 5:15 p.m. there was a black bear sow with one black yearling cub on Junction Butte. At 6:30 p.m. we watched a large black bear in the high clearing on the skyline south of Boulder Pond (the grizzly had moved on, and this black bear was large but in the bottom of that clearing). My high count for the trip for black bears -- total of nine today. At 6:45 p.m. I spotted a grizzly sow with one yearling on Specimen Ridge viewed from Slough Creek. At 8:00 p.m. my last sighting was a grizzly digging south of the Institute.
Monday - 06 May
At 5:55 p.m. I spotted a grizzly digging south of the Institute. At 6:10 a.m. I found a grizzly north and east of coyote overlook digging. At 7:30 a.m. we had two grizzlies wrestling in the yellow grass meadow above the Slough Creek Campground. Small difference in size so I guessed two siblings, but could have been a courting pair. At 7:45 a.m. 869F the gray now two year old wolf from the Junction Butte Pack in the Slough Creek bottoms. At 9:00 a.m. we had a black bear near #9's on den in Little America. At 9:30 a.m. the first black bear ran and was caught by a second larger black bear. It was a serious but short fight before both moved off separately to the east. At 2:30 I spotted a black bear on Tower Hill. At 2:55 p.m. we watched a cinnamon black bear sow with one cinnamon yearling and one dark brown yearling cub north of the Buffalo Ford viewed from Boulder Pullout. I never saw that bear last year at all. At 4:00 p.m. a grizzly sow with two yearling cubs was visible south of Dorothy’s pullout. At 6:30 p.m. I found a large black bear on Specimen Ridge. At 7:50 p.m. we had a dark large grizzly on Jasper Bench. At 8:00 p.m. I spotted a black bear in the tree line south of the Institute. At 8:10 p.m. we had a small grizzly low in the Salad Bowl viewed from the Institute. The low of 32 degrees and it warmed up nicely today. One moose in Round Prairie, four swans at Slough Creek and a beaver also at Slough Creek today.
Tuesday - 07 May
Another three dog day today. 36 degrees leaving camp this morning with a high of 71 degrees. An extra fox today and a beaver at Slough Creek. 831F a black collared wolf of the Canyon Pack was killed by a rancher in Gardiner today. He had decided to put a few sheep out and some wolves killed most of them. The Montana "Fish and Game" gave him a permit and he used it today. At Lamar Canyon West a pair of ospreys were starting a nest straight across the river, good viewing. This should make the Lamar River Bridge construction people happy since the ospreys had tried twice to build a nest on the top of its crane. They finally put up a plastic owl decoy that appeared to work as the ospreys relocated. At 6:00 a.m. we watched a small grizzly on dead puppy hill viewed from footbridge pullout. At 7:00 a.m. we had two gray wolves of the Junction Butte Pack at a new carcass in the creek at Slough Creek. At 7:30 a.m. a grizzly again in the same clearing in Crystal Drainage. At 8:00 a.m. we watched a dark grizzly in Junction Pass heading north viewed from Dave’s hill. At 1:00 p.m. the black sow with the two brown yearling cubs was out at Petrified Tree. At 4:00 p.m. I spotted a grizzly sow with two yearlings south of Dorothy knoll. At 4:45 p.m. we watched a large black bear south of the Institute. At 6:05 p.m. my last spot was a black bear in the Divide Ridge viewed from Slough Creek.
Wednesday - 08 May
38 degrees this morning with a high of 67 degrees. We had three beavers at Slough Creek this morning. We also noticed two chicks in the Bald Eagle nest across from coyote overlook. At 6:00 a.m. we watched a small grizzly south of the Institute. At 6:15 a.m. I found a dark grizzly on Specimen Ridge viewed from coyote overlook. At 7:15 a.m. we watched Scarface on the carcass at Slough Creek (a newer carcass again). At 10:30 a.m. Paul from Tulsa spotted an unknown wolf south and west of coyote overlook. A black wolf getting lighter with age. At 4:00 p.m. I found a dark grizzly high in the salad bowl. At 5:00 p.m. I spotted a dark grizzly high on the divide ridge viewed from Slough Creek.
Thursday - 09 May
37 degrees in the morning warming up to 60 degrees. At 7:30 a.m. Bob L. called about two grizzlies south of the Soda Butte Cone. A pair of young sub adult or siblings wrestling and playing then digging in view for over an hour. At 8:00 a.m. we had a black wolf at the picnic area drove an elk into the river but was not successful. At 11:10 a.m. I spotted a black bear on Elk Creek. At 11:20 a.m. I watched a black bear running in Phantom Lake. At 5:00 p.m. we had a grizzly sow with one yearling in the trees south and west of trash pullout. We watched on and off for over an hour, once the yearling cub went up a tree 20 to 25 feet. At 5:15 p.m. the same black wolf of the Lamar Canyon Pack crossed the old Druid rendezvous areas heading west and south. At 6:25 p.m. we had a grizzly sow with two yearlings in A-Z meadow viewed from Dorothy's Knoll.
Friday - 10 May
At 5:45 a.m. we had a large collared grizzly south of exclosure. He kept looking back at me as he headed for the trees. At 6:20 a.m. the black turning gray unknown wolf was spotted north of coyote overlook. Rick M. got there in time to view this wolf and who it is remains a mystery. At 9:00 a.m. I spotted a grizzly sow with two yearlings back in a-z meadow. At 10:30 a.m. middle gray, the one thought to be pregnant was seen for the first time in about two weeks. She chased an elk into the river near picnic area and then traveled to the west where we lost her at Dorothy's Knoll. At 11:15 a.m. we had a grizzly sow with one yearling on the little clearing east of square meadow or the diamond and ski slope. At 12:35 p.m. we watched a black bear sow with one black and one brown yearling cub on Specimen Ridge. 36 degrees in the morning warming to 68 degrees in the afternoon.
Saturday - 11 May
At 9:15 a.m. a grizzly sow with two yearlings on a-z meadow again. At 9:45 a.m. we watched a grizzly sow with one yearling on ski slope. At 11:00 a.m. 889F from the Junction Butte pack came into the Lamar Valley and we saw her south of coyote overlook. At 2:20 p.m. I spotted a black bear crossing Crystal Creek from Specimen Ridge heading east. At 2:30 p.m. we watched a grizzly sow with one yearling high in Crystal Drainage. At 5:20 p.m. I spotted a large grizzly in the big frigging meadow moving east. At 6:00 p.m. a repeat as the grizzly sow with one yearling from Crystal came over the ridge and was viewed in the salad bowl. At 7:15 p.m. we watched a large grizzly in the second sliver of ski slope. 37 degrees in the morning with a high of 71 degrees. Two moose south of the Soda Butte Cone this evening.
Sunday - 12 May
We had a new carcass this morning south of Dorothy's pullout. About half the way to the Lamar River, a female bison we think died naturally. Reports of elk calves coming thru now, the first May 10th near Mammoth (I have not seen one yet). The moose from last night moved to the confluence this morning. Jim B. had a gray wolf chasing big horn sheep on top of Junction Butte this morning, missed that too. At 5:45 a.m. a large grizzly south of the Institute. At 6:10 a.m. the grizzly sow with two yearlings on ski slope. At 8:00 a.m. the black bear sow with one black yearling cub on the bottom of Junction Butte. At 9:05 a.m. we watched a large grizzly at the skyline south of Dorothy's went thru heavy snow and headed over to the south. At 3:15 p.m. I spotted a grizzly sow with a yearling cub on the third finger of Norris (first grizzly on the fingers this year). At 4:50 p.m. we watched a grizzly sow with one yearling in the large clearing to the south of ski slope. At 5:15 p.m. we had a dark grizzly in K meadow. At 5:20 p.m. a grizzly sow with one yearling on the skyline above no bear meadow. At 5:30 p.m. I watched a grizzly high in the salad bowl. At 6:55 p.m. we watched a large grizzly in bear meadow. At 7:00 p.m. we had a grizzly sow with two yearlings on the skyline south of bear meadow. At 7:05 p.m. I found a black bear feeding in A-Z meadow. At 7:15 p.m. we had a grizzly high south of the Institute. At 7:30 p.m. we watched a large grizzly high south of the Institute. At 7:45 p.m. I found a large grizzly on the bench south of the Institute. The afternoon clouded up and the lighting was prefect. Lots of bear watchers and lots of bears all over the place. We counted 12 different from 4:00 p.m. to just after 7:00 p.m. My total for the day was 20 different grizzlies and 3 black bears.
Monday - 13 May
36 degrees in Silver Gate and warming to 82 degrees, not exactly good bear watching weather, and the clouds did not return like yesterday. I viewed a beaver at the confluence on the way in. At 6:30 a.m. the grizzly sow with two yearling cubs very high above meadow. At 7:30 a.m. I spotted a large grizzly near the rendezvous area. At 7:50 a.m. we had a grizzly sow with a yearling cub on the third finger of Norris again. At 10:15 a.m. the sow with the two yearlings was laying in the snow just below the sky line. When they moved off, Dean and Geri continued to watch them go behind a few trees. I glassed up again to see a grizzly sow with a yearling in the original clearing. Yep, we had five grizzlies in our scope as the sow and two yearlings sensing the other sow and one yearling moved over the sky line, followed by the grizzly sow with one yearling. Meanwhile Dean and Geri found another grizzly sow with one yearling that they had out before I arrived much lower in a clearing south of the Institute. At 10:40 a.m. we located a large grizzly eating in the lower clearing where 30 minutes ago the sow with one yearling had moved thru. At 3:30 p.m. the black bear sow with two cinnamon cubs created a bear jam at Elk Creek. At 4:10 p.m. we watched a grizzly sow with two yearlings out in bear meadow (probably the sow from the morning on the sky line). At 4:40 p.m. we had a small grizzly crosses the big frigging meadow west of drainage south of the Institute. At 5:20 p.m. a large grizzly was feeding on the bench south of the Institute. At 6:05 p.m. I spotted another grizzly sow with two yearlings on ski slope.
Tuesday - 14 May
42 degrees this morning and a high of 72 degrees. At least the rivers receded a little with a little cooler temperatures. Good wolf action near and around the bison carcass south of Dorothy's this morning. John and John from Seattle found the first two animals this morning to the west south of fisherman's pullout. It was 889F and 890F from the Junction Butte pack. Soon it became obvious that they had something else that they were feeding on. We think a bison calf. At 6:00 a.m. we watched a grizzly crossing the big frigging meadow from east to west. At 6:20 a.m. we had a grizzly sow with one yearling cub in a small clearing east of the diamond/square meadow (I guessed it was the sow with two yearlings we had in the area last night, but they were not seen again today). At 6:45 a.m. we watched a courting pair of grizzlies high in Crystal (classic big bear following the smaller bear who was not quite ready for close contact). About 7:30 a.m. the wolf people spotted a black wolf that turned out to be from the Lamar Canyon pack north of fisherman's. She crossed the road and after a 30 minute confrontation with three coyotes (we think have a den in the area) she made it to the carcass. We think that most of the carcass was still intact with no bears yet to find it. At 8:30 a.m. we had the grizzly sow with two yearlings in bear meadow. At 11:30 p.m. I returned to Dorothy's to find everyone watching a gray wolf being harassed by the same three coyotes. It was middle gray who had come for a visit to the bison carcass. The black had been seen leaving and we saw it earlier north of midpoint and then north of trash can heading back to the den area. At 4:30 p.m. I spotted a grizzly between Jasper Bench and salad bowl. I headed to Swan Lake Flats for the evening finding no black bear jams on my way there. At 7:30 p.m. I just missed the two now 3 1/2 year old cubs who moved into the trees not to be seen again tonight. I have never seen a grizzly in Yellowstone keep her cubs into the fourth year (3 1/2 year olds). Soon Denny and Pam from Utah had quad mom out with a boar accompanying her. I ran into Jim and Twyla from Ohio who had also seen another courting pair of grizzlies in the area tonight.
Wednesday - 15 May
I stayed outside of the park last night near Gardiner and got to sleep in to almost 4:30 a.m. Quad mom and the boar were still in the area with no mating yet. A lot of running around and sitting by the sow as they moved over a hill and out of sight. Nothing in Hayden but found a grizzly digging at Mary's Bay around 7:45 a.m. On the way back saw a brief sighting of a grizzly in the trees near Pelican Creek. Had a blue grouse in the road and the marmots were out at Sledge Bay. Found at least six blue herons in the rookery just south of Nez Perce picnic area.
Someone had a new elk calf near Mammoth on the 10th. That's early. A few others have been seen since them. Construction is still going on at the Lamar Canyon Bridge but should finish by the end of June. Lots of trucks on the Mammoth to Tower road as the construction continues from the Tower Junction to the Tower Store. Apparently going with the night closures of 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. which is nice for wildlife watchers (they won't let the campers out until 7:00 a.m.). The rumors are that the road from Tower Store to Chittenden will be next year if they have money. All the roads around the park are open except The Beartooth Highway and Dunraven Pass (also the one way Blacktail drive is closed). You can get to Cody by using the Road to Sunlight Basin. All the rivers are really flowing high with the warm weather despite having a low snowpack.
Wolf watchers: Ray L and Kathy, Doug M. from Silver Gate, Rick M, Mark and Carol from Colorado, Jim and Joellen from Iowa, Calvin and Lynette from Kansas, Richard from Utah, Peter M. from Montana, Charles was with Mark and Carol, Bob and Elizabeth from Montana, Ellie from Germany, Barbara from Montana, Larry and Linda from Wyoming, Jerry from England, Jimmy Jones, and Kathy L. from Montana. Bear Watchers: Jack G. from Montana, Margaret from Montana, Dean and Geri from Utah, Doug M. from Gardiner, Wayne and John and John from Washington, Jim and Twyla from Ohio, Scott from Billings area, Frank and Lou from Idaho. Others: Cliff B, Tonya, Hank from Spokane, John K., Ed, Paul from Tulsa, Bob L, McNeil L., Dan H., the Bearman, Alan and Sue from Colorado, Linda T., and Nathan V., and Ray and Darlene.
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