Yellowstone National Park 2013 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
20 September thru 01 October 2013
~ September 2013 ~
Friday - 20 September
I left Idaho Falls after having breakfast with the old work crew. Quite a bit of traffic as soon as I entered Yellowstone National Park. I found a large bear jam at Swan Lake Flats. A grizzly was on an elk carcass right across the lake. He had the carcass buried and laid on it most of the time I was there. Occasionally he would walk around and once came down to the lake for a drink. At 2:00 p.m. I spotted a grizzly in Crystal Drainage. There is a bison carcass in the river viewable from the Lamar Canyon Bridge. That's why the bear watching was good for the day and tomorrow. At 2:50 p.m. we had a black bear in Crystal Drainage grazing. At 3:00 p.m. Richard from Wyoming found a black bear with two black cubs in Crystal Drainage. At 4:30 p.m. another black bear in Crystal Drainage that was smaller than the first one sighted. At 6:15 p.m. after the first grizzly was leaving the area heading south, I headed up to see the wolves in Lamar Valley. Four wolves of the Junction Butte pack had killed a small elk south of Hubbard Hill in the morning and by late afternoon it had made it to the tree line. Puff and ragged tail the alpha pair as well as 870F and the black female were on the carcass. After I arrived, a bison herd moved in to the carcass area and the wolves moved away to the west. At 7:00 p.m. I headed back to the Lamar River Bridge since I heard Scarface had came to the carcass (and that's why the smaller grizzly left earlier). The carcass was at this time back in the trees above the river, but we could see Scarface moving around it. Soon he came to the river for a drink and showed his new GPS collar. At 7:15 p.m. a lot of people moving on the east end of the bridge. The grizzly sow with three coy's had arrived on a hill across the river, but sensed that Scarface was on the carcass. What a sight, as the three cubs laid near or occasionally on top of mom. Although it was getting dark, the cameras were shooting away as the family was about 125 yards off the bridge. I stayed outside the park tonight, but found a campsite at Pebble Creek for the remainder of my trip.
Saturday - 21 September
At 6:45 a.m. it was still pretty dark, but we could see motion near the river. Scarface was finishing up the carcass and crossed under the bridge to the north. Later in the morning we found him still going north through the Slough Creek bottoms. At 7:10 a.m. the black sow with two black cubs again in Crystal Drainage. At 7:20 a.m. we had a grizzly in Crystal, probably the smaller grizzly that was in the area last evening. At 7:30 a.m. we had three grays and one black wolf leaving the Slough Creek bottoms and heading uphill to the north (there were move wolves there this morning, but I only counted the four). At 2:00 p.m. I was still at the Lamar River Bridge when someone came from Lamar saying the grizzly with three coy's was across from the Institute. They were digging on the bench directly south of the Institute in a dark space that looked damp. I left just before 6:00 p.m. and they were still in the same location. I had barely moved my scope in three hours, as they moved only 20 to 30 yards from that spot.
Sunday - 22 September
At 6:45 a.m. I could make out one large and three smaller dark spots south of the Institute. The grizzly sow with three cubs of the year (coy's) was out again. I watched them in the morning, in early afternoon when I returned they were returning from a nap in the drainage, and still there at night. As it was getting dark, they moved toward the river. I never saw them again on this trip. At 7:40 a.m. a grizzly with an orange ear tag (Montana tagged, ranger Brian C. said) was as Aspen Pullout heading towards the Lamar River Bridge. I went west, but the grizzly visited the carcass, swam in the river, and then bedded and slept for 35 minutes on a rock 25 yards off the road. Finally with the crowds getting really large, Ranger Brian cracker shelled the grizzly to move him away. At 11:00 a.m. I found a large black bear sleeping on a log on the Petrified Tree road. At 4:40 p.m. we had a small black bear roadside at the exit to Petrified Tree. New bear frequenting signs were put up today around the Petrified Tree road. Apparently a mule deer was killed by traffic on the road, and the rangers dragged it across from the first pullout up the Petrified Tree road. No bears on it today.
Monday - 23 September
A really slow day today. At 10:00 a.m. I found a bedded black wolf north and west of Hellroaring Overlook at about 4 and 1/2 miles. At 7:00 p.m. we had a gray wolf in the same area.
Tuesday - 24 September
At 7:30 a.m. I spotted a grizzly high in the Aspen Drainage straight south of Slough Creek. It was digging in some bare ground. At 11:00 a.m. we had a cinnamon black bearin Crystal Drainage. At 12:00 noon the black bear sow with two black cubs in Crystal Drainage - were out for an hour and a half.
Wednesday - 25 September
At 7:15 a.m. we had three black and two gray wolves south of Slough Creek on a nine day old bison carcass. The wolf count this morning was four grays and three blacks. My count was three and three, as the alpha pair crossed the road near the Lamar Canyon River, but I missed them. Good wolf watching most of the day as we found three or four bedded south of Slough Creek where they remained until about 5:00 p.m. At 2:45 p.m. we watched a grizzly on an old bison carcass in Crystal Drainage (not the close one at the bridge, but another well out in the flats). At 4:15 p.m. I spotted a small grizzly in the tree line in Crystal Drainage (not much of a hump, but a grizzly). At 4:30 p.m. Twyla from Ohio found a black bear near the diagonal forest in Slough Creek After a while it ran off to the west. At 4:45 p.m. we found the reason for it running off, a large black bear also south of Slough Creek. At 5:30 p.m. Paul from the Teton Science School called me with grizzlies in view from Trashcan. To the north a grizzly sow with one coy digging in rocks at the top of a bare clearing. To the south a large grizzly working the tree line.
Thursday - 26 September
At 7:15 a.m. I found a small grizzly in the Slough Creek bottoms. At 7:50 a.m. we had a grizzly low in Salad Bowl viewed from Dorothy's Knoll. At 8:00 a.m. we watched the black bear sow with two black cubs higher up in the Salad Bowl heading for Crystal Drainage. At 8:25 a.m. we had the grizzly sow with one coy in the same rocks north of Trashcan. At 10:15 a.m. I hear of a sighting at Petrified Tree. Yep, Scarface had found the mule deer carcass and was laying on it 80 yards from the first pullout up the Petrified Tree road. About $250,000.00 worth of camera lens at the pullout. Scarface looked good, maybe a little thin but not bad for a 23 year old grizzly. Apparently a black bear came in towards evening and bedded above Scarface hoping he would leave. At 10:45 a.m. we had a cinnamon black bear at Elk Creek. At 2:10 p.m. I found a cinnamon black bear in Crystal Drainage. At 2:30 p.m. we watched a grizzly on the Divide Ridge heading towards Lamar Valley viewed from the Lamar River Bridge. At 4:50 p.m. my last sighting was a black bear above the Yellow Grass Meadow south of Slough Creek.
Friday - 27 September
At 6:50 a.m. Scarface still on the carcass at Petrified Tree. He would leave the carcass this morning, but revisit it later towards evening. At 9:50 a.m. we had a grizzly south of Trashcan. At 11:00 a.m. we found two separate black wolves in the green reflector screen way, way north of Boulder Pullout. At 1:40 p.m. the grizzly sow with one coy north of Trash Can in the same area as the last two days. At 6:50 p.m. a nice sized grizzly 20 yards off the road laying down between Silver Gate and Cooke City.
Saturday - 28 September
At 7:45 a.m. we had a large grizzly south of the Institute on the bench (digging in the same place as the sow with three coys earlier on this trip). At 9:15 a.m. I spotted a cinnamon black bear in Crystal Drainage. At 5:30 p.m. we watched a cinnamon black bear above the Horizontal Forest north of Slough Creek. At 6:15 p.m. Carma S. found a small grizzly in the Yellow Grass Meadow north of Slough Creek.
Sunday - 29 September
At 7:20 a.m. a grizzly in the Slough Creek bottoms. At 8:20 a.m. we watched the black and three gray wolves on a new carcass east of the horizontal forest. At 8:55 a.m. Wayne K. had a grizzly north of Fisherman's, and I found it going north in Secret Passage viewed from Coyote Overlook. At 3:45 p.m. we had a large grizzly digging in a damp spot south of Mid Point. At 5:00 p.m. I spotted a black bear in Crystal Drainage. Around 6:00 p.m. the wolves started to move near this mornings carcass. We had the same count of three blacks, but picked up four grays this evening.
Monday - 30 September
I left early this morning and my only regret was missing Scarface again. As I got to Elk Creek Doug M. from Silver Gate called spotting the grizzly from Long Pullout. I decided not to go back to see Scarface again.
~ October 2013 ~
~ Black October ~
Tuesday - 01 October
The government shutdown happened. Yellowstone National Park and all the national park are closed. Residents of Silver Gate and Cooke City can travel to Gardiner, but no stopping inside the park. Campers had 48 hours to leave.
Lots of bison, few elk except at Mammoth where the resident bull has been chasing cars. A few coyotes. Lots of Pronghorn antelope. Big horn sheep and lots of mountain goats above Pebble Creek and on Barronette. A few mule deer. A few moose, missed the cow and two calves near Round Prairie. For birds: ravens, magpies, golden and bald eagles, hawks, kestrels, bluebirds, robins, ospreys, grouse, geese and ducks.
Wolf watchers: Richard from Wyoming, Amy from Washington, Jean from Chicago, Lauri L. from Silver Gate, and Pauline from the Netherlands, Alan and Kristen from Great Britain, Rick M, and Doug M. from Silver Gate, Anne from Colorado, Kathy L. from Silver Gate, Don and Carol from Missouri. Mike and Emily from Montana, Peter M. from Montana, Jim and Joellen from Iowa, Steve from Colorado. Stacey from Tennessee, Rick (Bear watcher too) and Maureen from New York, Jan and Bill from Kansas, Larry and Linda from Wyoming, and Ray L and Kathy from Idaho. Bear Watchers: Jack G. from Montana, Joe from Montana, Wayne K from Illinois, Jim and Tywla from Ohio, Carma and Jennings and Jim and Merilynn from Indiana. Others: Bearman, Bob B. from Utah, Mike L. from Montana, Rain from Wyoming, Carl S. from Montana, Cliff B. from Cooke City, Bob L. and Nathan V. from Montana, John K and Ed working bear jams, Joann M. from Gardiner, Cindy H. from Silver Gate, Bob and Kathy (former Tower Campground hosts) from Washington.
Final notes: (1) the fall colors are getting good and (2) one day Scarface was observed near Boulder Lake Pullout heading west, a few cars stopped, and he decided to cross the road to the south. Everyone hollered to get into their cars, but one lady apparently got confused and froze. As she curled up in a ball near her car, Scarface crossed 2-10 feet from her.
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