Yellowstone National Park 2014 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
08 thru 14 April 2014
~ April 2014 ~
Tuesday - 08 April
I'm still in Gardiner thru May 14th. 28 degrees this morning warming to 55 degrees. I had a cow moose with two large yearling calves at the Geode Pond (between Geode Creek and Phanton Lake, the high spot). Later in the day had ten large bighorn rams just off the road near Wrecker Pullout and Yellowstone River Picnic area. At 7:30 a.m. we had 755M and 889F this side of Hellroaring Creek from upper Hellroaring. Around 8:30 a.m. 869M and a gray yearling from the Junction Butte pack arrived and chased 755M and 889F. But because 889F was a former member of the Junction Butte pack everything turned out OK. Even 755M was friendly after a while. They soon separated and went their separate ways. At 10:00 a.m. I spotted a black bear near Junction Butte close to the Specimen Trail head. At 2:45 p.m. we watched a black bear apparently crossed the road downhill from the Petrified Tree Pullout and we saw it going to the north towards Garnett Hill.
Wednesday - 09 April
I forgot to mention that the reduced camping rate (winter from November to when the west gate opens) no longer is offered. It's $20.00 a night unless you have a senior pass, then $10.00 a night for the entire year now. 40 degrees this morning warming to 55 degrees, really started melting the snow down low. Early in the morning Bob called saying he had a bear in the Slough Creek bottoms near the mixed aspen/conifer island. At 7:15 a.m. we arrived and were delighted to find a grizzly on a old carcass (we guessed a winter kill that the grizzly found after some of the snow melted). While watching from Aspen Pullout we were delighted to find a second grizzly coming in just after the first grizzly bedded in the trees. At 10:30 a.m. we had 869M, 907F, and the three grays (only missing the alpha pair 890M and 870F) in view from Hellroaring Overlook.
Thursday - 10 April
29 degrees this morning warming to 48 degrees. At 6:30 a.m. we found two grizzlies on the old bison carcass west while viewing from Hellroaring. We hadn't had a bear there in a couple of days. It turned out to be two young grizzlies more interested in wrestling than eating anyway. A 8:00 a.m. I got a call from Calvin and Lynette that they and Sian found wolves in Blacktail. They had howling and Calvin found two black wolves running down and out of sight. We spread out and found six blacks and a gray on a fresh elk carcass. The current count for this pack, the 8 Mile Pack, is ten (two alphas and six black and two gray pups (now yearlings). The alphas are away over near Gardiner but the 8 pups have been a regular near Blacktail. At 11:00 a.m. Calvin, Lynette and Sian found four grays and 890M the black alpha male north of Rick's Pullout. This pack is now seven (890M the black alpha male, 870F the gray alpha female (presumable in a den), 869M a gray now two years old, 907F a gray female yearling with a skinny tail, and three pups gray now yearlings). One of the pups moved off the fresh carcass they had, and roamed until it found our first bison calf of the year. It tried but the momma bison wouldn't have any of the wolf. At 3:45 p.m. we returned to the Blacktail and located the second gray that we did not see in the morning. I had a THREE DOG DAY today.
Friday - 11 April
Soon after daylight Calvin and Lynette were looking for the 8 mile wolves near North Butte and Lynette found a mountain Lion moving slowly. They had it in sight for over five minutes. We did not get there in time to see it. It was 29 degrees this morning and warming to 56 degrees. We had located a new fresh bison winter kill on the slope of Hellroaring yesterday, and a 6:30 a.m. we had a grizzly on the carcass. At 9:00 a.m. 869M, 907F and a gray yearling were sighted from Hellroaring Overlook. At 10:05 a.m. I found a big gray wolf from Boulder Pullout moving west. This was an unknown gray wolf that had been seen in Lamar yesterday, and later in the week Steve from Colorado found it crossing Hellroaring Slope. At 10:30 a.m. we had a black bear on Wrecker Grade near the Yellowstone River Picnic area. I found my first Unita ground squirrel at Boulder this morning, a sure sign of spring. At 1:00 p.m. the other three Junction Butte joined the other three wolves at Hellroaring on the fresh bison carcass. The grizzly had left to the south, but after eating the wolves followed the scent of the grizzly and briefly chased it. Soon the grizzly stopped sat down and that ended the activity as the wolves soon bedded around the grizzly.
Saturday - 12 April
34 degrees this morning and it warmed up well. I had a cottontail rabbit near Gardiner this morning and two jack rabbits. The first at Mammoth was almost all gray now but the second near Frog Rock was still mostly white. The cow with two large calf moose were back near Geode Creek eating willows. At 6:25 a.m. we spotted a grizzly on the bison carcass at Hellroaring. Calvin and Lynette called saying Sian had two grizzlies near Blacktail Ponds. The first was big grizzly crossing above the ponds going west. It soon moved to and crossed the road going south. The second was located on a new carcass back to the north in Blacktail. Sian then located a black wolf, probably 8 mile pack, who when to the carcass after the grizzly left. At 8:15 a.m. five gray wolves of the Junction Butte pack arrived at the bison carcass at Hellroaring (the grizzly had left already). At 10:45 a.m. we watched a grizzly on the carcass in Slough Creek bottoms.
Sunday - 13 April
21 degrees and snowing warming to 32 degrees, but the roads got dry in late morning. Low visability this morning. At 9:30 a.m. it cleared a little. They had seen a few wolves from Lower Hellroaring. They were moving west and I was the only one at Upper Hellroaring. Soon three black and two gray wolves of the 8 mile pack ran thru the lower closer openings chasing a couple of mule deer. I know there were more of the blacks but between seeing them with my eyes and putting them in a scope I could only account for the five. Only a few saw them before they quickly went out of sight. This is pretty far east for the 8 mile, so we were glad they headed back west not running into any of the local wolves in Hellroaring. At 10:30 a.m. it cleared up a little, futher up the slope and we found 869M and the gray yearling with a black tip on its tail on the bison carcass. I had a THREE DOG DAY today. At 3:30 p.m. I finally found a grizzly, when one returned to the carcass at Hellroaring Overlook. At 4:00 p.m. after the grizzly left the carcass the two wolves from this morning joined by another gray came to the bison carcass.
Monday - 14 April
9 degrees this morning warming up to 47 degrees. I saw a blue grouse on the road this morning. I found two swans in a pond from Hellroaring Overlook. And the three moose were back near Geode Creek. Ralph and I were quite surprised to have a grizzly on the carcass at 6:15 a.m., since the grizzly yesterday afternoon was moving the carcass and we didn't think there was most left of it. At 6:20 a.m. the other dark spot near the carcass turned out to be a second grizzly. The second grizzly was not allowed by the first grizzly to visit the carcass so it moved off going south. Lynette and Calvin called with a wolf sighting at Blacktail S curve. Sian and Steve had arrived, Sian said it would be nice to have a howl to know that the wolves were around. Just then a black wolf howled right in front of them. When I arrived the action had moved to the north of the road where two black and two gray wolves of the 8 Mile Pack were found. At 8:00 a.m. I headed back to Hellroaring to find the grizzly still on the carcass and two gray wolves near it from the Junction Butte pack. At 9:15 a.m. I headed back to Lamar Valley where both the Lamar Canyon wolves were bedded north of the road from Hubbard Hill. I missed it, but there were about five elk really close to them. Soon one of the cow elk charged the bedded female running her off, the "chase" ended when she joined Big Gray male. This made our THREE WOLF PACK day. At 2:00 p.m. Calvin and Lynette had 890M and a gray wolf leaving Hellroaring going to the east. They moved to Rick's Pullout where Calvin found 890M heading out of sight into an area you can not see from the road, where it is assumed that 870F is denned. At 4:30 p.m. I spotted my first black bear on Garnett Hill.
Wolf watchers: Rick M, Doug M (from Silver Gate), Calvin and Lynette, Sian and her mother Phil, Steve from Colorado, Larry and Linda from Wyoming, Ilona P from Montana, Bob and Elizabeth from Montana, Amy from Montana, Cliffe B. and Deby D. Bear watchers: Ralph N., Margaret L, Doug M. (Gardiner), and Jack G. from Montana. Others: Dave and Elva from Oregon, Dan, Cindy and Kelly from Silver Gate, Bob L, Kevin S, Alan and Sue, Jim and Judy W, Peter M, Jim and Bobbie F, Bob B, Pete B, and MacNeil L.
Calvin and Lynette, Sian and Phil, and Ralph N. have found a lot of these animals that are listed in this trip report.
Yellowstone National Park
Lamar Valley Map - Yellowstone National Park
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