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Yellowstone National Park 2015 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

01 through 04 April 2015

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

~ April 2015 ~

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Wednesday - 01 April

I got an early start on my trip to Yellowstone leaving about 6:15 a.m. I saw a flock of snow geese flying overhead in Island Park. I also saw a belted kingfisher on a power line at Last Chance. Next I saw a moose feeding off the road near Pond's Lodge. The weather had been nice for weeks, so it decided to snow this morning. Mainly slush until the turn off to Ennis when it got snow packed ice for 15 miles, but it cleared up after that so I made good time arriving in Gardiner after a five hour trip and 285 miles. I had sand hill cranes, elk, antelope, mule deer, and bison on the way in. I checked in early and headed out to the park for the afternoon. No bears or wolves today, but I had lots of pronghorn antelope, elk, and bison. There were two herds of bighorn sheep near Wrecker Pullout, one herd of rams and one herd of ewes and lambs. Today I saw one coyote, four bald eagles, two golden eagles, one swan in Slough Creek and tons of mountain blue birds. It was a pleasant day but a little breeze made it feel cold.

Thursday - 02 April

17 degrees in the morning warming up to 33 degrees. I noticed that they paved the gas station parking lot at Tower Junction last fall. I started my day at Bob's Knob at Slough Creek and at 6:50 a.m. I found a grizzly across the river climbing some rocks. It must have been tired because it took 20 minutes to go 30 yards over the hill; it sat, it rubbed it's back on a tree, it sat again like a nursing sow and scratched its stomach, then a nice 10 minute sit and another tree to scratch its back on before disappearing. Shaun from the Teton Science School told me about a grizzly near the mixed conifer/aspen forest down Slough Creek. At 8:50 a.m. I found it still below the forest lightly digging and grazing for 15 minutes or so before moving into the forest. Later it moved uphill and north over the hill, it took about 25 minutes to go that 1/3 mile. I had not seen any wolves but at 2:00 p.m. Becky and Chloe had 926F and her three new boyfriends (Twin, mottled, and 964M all from the Prospect Pack) cross the road near North Butte. I arrived late, so climbed part way up North Butte and joined Sian J. to watch. She had them earlier prior to the crossing and lost them in a forested area. We waited them out and found them stalking a 100 plus herd of elk in a large clearing. The next 15 minutes or so was a constant chase often focusing on different small herds of elk. The mottled male got a bite in twice, once being kicked by the elk hard but the elk survived. Soon 926F took over the lead and the chase went for 1/2 mile going out of sight so I don't know in the elk calf survived or not. Jack G was up for a couple of days and told me at Slough Creek he had a bear near #9's old den in Little America. Becky, Chloe and I headed that way and soon they located my first black bear of the year crossing a large clearing. A nice sized black bear that was both digging and grazing on new grass.

Friday - 03 April

18 degrees in the morning warming to 42 degrees but a strong wind made it cold. I hiked with Dan H. near Hellroaring today and found my first chipmunk. At 7:00 a.m. I had six of seven of the Junction Butte Pack near Peregrine in Little America. All six are collared (890M, 907F, 911M the new alpha male, 970F, 969F and 968F) the only missing one was the gray last years pup. Some of us went to Bob's Knob expecting them to go east. At 8:30 a.m. I found a nice sized grizzly moving north below the mixed conifer/aspen forest. It was out for over one half hour grazing before disappearing in the forest. Later the wolves were found from Boulder Pullout (they had gone west not east). Another great chase involving different groups of elk and wolves chasing different elk. Finally one focused on a last years calf and down into the river corridor it went with the wolf right behind. The other wolves followed and later the wolves showed up fat and with pieces of meat to cache. They did come out to bed near Buffalo Ford briefly so we saw all six again.

Saturday - 04 April

18 degrees warming up to 49 degrees but with the cloud cover and wind it felt a lot colder. I had a fox in the road near Upper Hellroaring this morning and with fifteen wolves and a coyote - I had my first THREE DOG DAY. I found a porcupine in Crystal Creek this morning, first one in years. At 7:00 a.m all seven of the Junction Butte (the yearling gray joined them today) bedded near the old Slough Creek den. MacNeil L. called about a grizzly at Hellroaring so Doug M and I headed back to investigate., Doug M, had it near Hellroaring Creek when I arrived. I found a nice sized grizzly that moved west and was in view for over an hour. Doug M. headed for home, but did not get too far before I called him back, finding another grizzly high of the slopes of Hellroaring. At 8:30 a.m. I found eight of the Prospect Peak pack bedded in a large sagebrush clearing towards Garnett Hill. Four black and four gray wolves meaning one gray was missing considering that three are running with 926F now. About 10:00 a.m. I was back at Slough Creek and the wolves were up moving around a little. I found a grizzly in the yellow grass meadow while watching a couple of this morning’s wolves again. In the afternoon the Junction Butte wolves moved back to the west where others found them again from Boulder Pullout. They bedded in the yellow grass of Buffalo Ford then moved up into the rock formation to the north, on and off viewing for hours.

Other News

Yellowstone looks like late April or early May. No snow to speak of until you get to Lamar and then not much there. The Lamar has been running at record levels for this time of year, carrying the May runoff down river. I had seen more elk and bison and blue birds than other years.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: from Montana: Rick M., Doug M. Becky and Chloe, Deby D. Cliff B., Alan and Sue O, Bob and Elizabeth N, and Kat. From Missouri Don and Carol. From the United Kingdom: Sian J, and Kristy and Alan P. Bear Watchers: Doug M and Jack G. from Montana. Scott and Peggy from Idaho. Others: Bob B from Utah, MacNeil L, and Dan and Cindy H from Montana as well as Shari and Kate.

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2014 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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