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Yellowstone National Park 2015 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

25 through 28 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

Saturday - 25 April

32 degrees with rain and snow and low visibility in the morning, warming up to 49 degrees. I saw my first cottontail rabbit near Mammoth Campground this morning. I also saw a cow and last year's calf moose at Elk Creek towards evening. At 8:00 a.m. I spotted two three and one half year old grizzlies on Amethyst Bench. At 9:20 a.m. Ralph N found a grizzly family just west of Crystal Creek from the Slough Creek bathroom. We guessed a two year old cub, but it was out again on Sunday with a snow background and they were feeding close together, Wayne K and I thought a large yearling cub. But on Monday we found them again and it was a courting pair. At 12:40 p.m. 926F the alpha female (and only current member of the pack) was 40 yards off road moving to the west from Picnic Area. She eventually crossed the road to the south and ended up over on the cow bison carcass on Jasper Bench. After I left she finished feeding and taking a leg bone re-crossed the road back to the north heading back to a gully north and east of the Institute. At 2:45 p.m. Sian J found a large cinnamon black bear with a black face and front in Little America south of #9's old den. I heard that the Tower black bear with three now yearling cubs were out near Rainy Lake, so I hiked up the road to see them. Yep, still there. They look good, they were so small last summer and have filled out good-but still a little small for black bear yearlings. The rangers closed the road at Roosevelt Junction on Sunday, so I was glad I hiked up today. At 4:20 p.m. we had a small colorful grizzly in Crystal Drainage. At 5:05 p.m. I found a large grizzly low in the bowl viewed from the Institute. At 6:05 p.m. I spotted a black bear in the tree line south of Midpoint Pullout.

Sunday - 26 April

33 degrees this morning with rain and snow in the morning with low visibility all day. It moved up to 45 degrees but sometimes with no wind it felt comfortable. I hiked down to the Slough Creek Campground today with Wayne K, Don G, and Shari and Kate. They are supposed to open part of the road tomorrow, so nice to be able to walk the whole way today. The golden eagles were around the rock face edge nest but not on it. I saw a cow moose at Blacktail this evening. At 6:15 a.m. we had a grizzly sow with a large yearling cub in Crystal Drainage, which we discovered on Monday was actually a courting pair. With the snow background they really showed up well. They were visible for well over an hour. At 2:15 p.m. we had a large cinnamon black bear walking across the second sliver of Ski slope. At 3:00 p.m. we had the two three and one half year old sub adults appeared on Amethyst Bench. They kept moving around several groups of bison, and eventually disappeared back into the trees. At 4:15 p.m. we had a large dark grizzly that looked a lot like the grizzly who was on the bison carcass for five mornings. Ralph saw him the fifth day in an opening in a snow storm - I missed seeing him the fifth day. The grizzly was south of Picnic Area moving into the tree line to the west.

Monday - 27 April

33 degrees and sunshine this morning warming into the low 50's. I saw two dusty (blue) grouse on the way to the valley this morning. I hiked to the old Soda Butte pen site this morning with Wayne K (one of the three original pen sites in 1995 for the wolves). At 6:00 a.m. I found the pair of grizzlies in Crystal Creek again. Remember on Saturday we assumed that they were a sow and a two year old, on Sunday we assumed a sow and a yearling cub, well this morning the large one mounted the small one for 35 minutes obviously a courting pair. Each day they looked different, but I must have misinterpreted them. At 8:30 a.m. twin and mottled male wolves from the Prospect Peak pack returned to 926F near Hitching Post. It's hoped that they will stay around and help raise 926F pups which should arrive any day now. At 10:30 a.m. adding to the confusion four gray and one black wolf of the Junction Butte pack came to Lamar River south of the confluence. Wolf watchers were afraid they were after twin, mottled and 926F, But they found a carcass in the Lamar River south of Confluence that the three have killed or found (could never see the carcass / just wolves, bears and ravens coming and going). At 11:30 a.m. Calvin and Lynette found two grizzlies coming to the carcass. I got a quick look at them when the wolves ran them off (guess a sow and a two year old cub). At 4:00 p.m. the two three and one half year old grizzlies were again on Amethyst Bench south of the Institute. At 5:40 p.m. Sian J found a small golden grizzly approaching the new carcass area, and the wolves chased it before I climbed the confluence hill to observe them. The grizzly did not stay long moving west towards the old Druid Rendezvous area.

Tuesday - 28 April

26 degrees with clear skies and sun all day, warming up to 67 but felt like 75. I hiked to the Rose Creek pen today with John B and Wayne K. At 6:45 a.m. John G found the courting pair in the Salad Bowl. They moved over into Crystal Drainage but were in view this evening east of A-Z Meadow in Lamar Valley. Richard B found the golden blond grizzly west of the rendezvous area from Hitching Post, better viewed from Trash Can. At 7:30 a.m. Sian J found a large grizzly in the sagebrush near the eastern end of the rendezvous area, finally disappearing in the trees. At 8:30 a.m. Richard B found the two three and one half year old sub adult grizzlies back on Amethyst Bench. At 8:40 a.m. a black bear in the tree line south of the Institute. At 8:45 a.m. a large grizzly just across the river south of the Institute, who moved west circling and approaching the two sub adults. A nice sighting as both sub adults stood up on their back feet trying to locate the large grizzly. Then ran off south into the trees as the large grizzly displaced them on the Bench. At 9:00 a.m. John G found two grizzlies high south of the Institute, not long or good viewing, could have been a courting pair or more likely a sow with a large cub. Just about 10:30 a.m. I noticed something black running in the rendezvous area, so I headed to Picnic to check it out. Four black and two gray wolves from the Mollies had come back into Lamar Valley. They stalled in the trip to the west and played and then bedded behind the eastern foothill south of Trashcan. They came out and re-bedded in the open green field for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon. At 1:30 p.m. I found a grizzly sow with two two year old cubs in K-2 Meadow - a long way to view them but they were out for about one hour. At 3:00 p.m. Sian J had two grizzlies south of the enclosure not too far from the bedded wolves. The golden blond grizzly from this morning was trying to make friends with an equal sized dark grizzly. Both small grizzlies, whenever the blond grizzly would get too close the dark one would run off. At 6:15 p.m. Sian J told me about a huge grizzly near the Cache Creek trail. John G and I headed for Picnic Area and found the grizzly who was huge going north on the lower slopes of Norris. I heard later that he changed directions and headed south towards yesterday's carcass in the Lamar River near the cottonwoods.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Rick M, Dan and Laurie L, Doug M, Bob and Elizabeth N, and Melba. From Utah: Richard B and Pam and Denny. From Kansas: Calvin and Lynette J. From the United Kingdom: Sian J and Kirsty and Alan P. From Virginia: Colleen. From Colorado: Anne W and Don G. Bear Watchers: from Montana: Ralph N, Scott M, and Margaret L's daughter. From Illinois: Wayne K. From Indiana: Jeff and Terri. From Washington: John G. From Colorado: Ed A. Others: from Colorado: Jim and Bobbie F. From Montana: Jim and Judy W, Cindy H, Shari and Kate, Ken T, Deby D, and MacNeil L. From Washington: Bob and Kathy, former Tower campground hosts. From Florida: Rick, and from Utah Bob B.

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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