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Yellowstone National Park 2016 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

01 through 04 April 2016

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

~ April 2016 ~

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2012 ~ © Copyright Frank Smith All Rights Reserved

Moose in Winter ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Friday - April 1st

33 degrees this morning warming up to 51 degrees.  At 8:00 p.m. Doug M (bear watcher) and I were talking at Boulder Pullout when we heard two sets of wolves howling.  Shortly afterward we spotted one gray then two grays on the rocks just east of Buffalo Ford.  Then we glassed to the west and found the other nine wolves of the Junction Butte pack below the eastern basalt cliffs. They moved west towards Wrecker Pullout and out of sight.  At 8:30 a.m. 926F, 992M Twin, 993M dark black and little T (still no sighting of Mottled wolf since the chase at Slough Creek two days ago) were all south of Dorothy's Knoll.  At 5:10 p.m. thru 7:10 p.m. I found all eleven of the Junction Butte wolves hunting on the slopes of Hellroaring.  Lots of bedding, resting, stalking, and then a series of great chases that did not end successfully.  They were milling around Hellroaring Creek when I left them.  I found out that there is a new bison carcass in the Blacktail Ponds that had a grizzly on it early this morning (I drove pass it in the dark).  At 7:45 p.m. the grizzly was high on the hill north of the Blacktail Ponds pullout bedded waiting for dark.  Apparently he left the carcass after daylight and crossed to road to the south.  Then he re crossed the road around 6:00 p.m.and went to the carcass which is less than 50 yards from the pullout.  A truck with snowmobilers shouted and gunned the diesel truck and moved the bear off the carcass around 6:30 p.m.

Yellowstone Bighorn Ram ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Saturday - April 2nd

31 degrees this morning warming up to 57 degrees.  A note about last years osprey nest in the Lamar Canyon.  It was build on an eroded area and this winter the tree fell over.   I joined Jack G. in the Blacktail Pullout at 5:40 a.m. (note:  it gets light around 6:35 a.m.).  Around 7:00 a.m. we heard a wolf howling and it was light enough to make out the grizzly on the carcass.  Around 7:15 a.m. we noticed a GPS collared wolf 996M (a Prospect Peak wolf) nose to nose with the grizzly.  A few brief charges and the wolf moved off and bedded.  Just after daylight the grizzly left the carcass heading west about 100 yards and then crossed the road to the south.  At 8:00 a.m. I found nine of the Junction Butte wolves still on Hellroaring (they were milling around, we might have missed two).  Around 11:00 a.m. I returned to Hellroaring just as the wolves howled and moved quickly to the Hell roaring Creek west end.  Out of sight for 30 minutes (we think they had a carcass from last night in the creek corridor) then began to reappear and bed.  Thirty minutes later we counted eight moving over the hill and out of sight.  Around 3:00 p.m. I returned to Hellroaring and found a black wolf near the creek, then Jack G found a little gray and a large gray wolf who joined the black.  They proceeded east and re-bedded in the middle of the Hellroaring Clearing.  I had a THREE DOG DAY today.

Yellowstone Wolves ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Sunday - April 3rd

40 degrees this morning warming up to a nice 60 degrees.  I saw my first meadow lark this morning.  Until today no antelope had come into the park, well this afternoon I found a herd of 66 antelope on the opening from Hellroaring Overlook.  I arrived at Blacktail Pond around 5:30 a.m. and was glad to find a parking place.  By 6:15 a.m. we could tell the grizzly was still of the carcass.  We heard a wolf howling and soon we located 996M again, a black un-collared, 964M a gray GPS collared wolf, and a young wolf that looked like 996M, black face and brown body all of the Prospect Peak Pack.  The Prospect Peak Pack currently has eleven wolves, 5 black and 6 gray.  At 9:30 a.m. someone reported that they had the Junction Butte wolves in the corridor of Slough Creek, but we had to climb to see them.  Dave's Hill wasn't high enough so we went to Adams Knob (you have to be half mountain goat to climb).  From Adams Knob we counted nine Junction Butte wolves, all four blacks and five of the seven grays.  We were high enough to see two lakes you can't see from Dave's Hill.  Ken T. called out around 10:45 a.m. that a grizzly was arriving to visit the wolves.  He proceeded into a gully with the wolves following.  Not sure but perhaps they had made a kill.  On the way back to Gardiner, one black wolf was still in the area of the Blacktail Pond carcass.

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

Monday - April 4th

38 degrees this morning warming up to a cool 52 degrees with rain in the afternoon.  I had my first marmots of the year as they slowly crossed the road in Lamar Canyon.  About 5:50 a.m. I could see the black outline of the grizzly still on the carcass at Blacktail Ponds.  He left the carcass just before first light again heading west for about 100 yards before turning to the south and crossing the road and going out of sight up the hill.  At 6:15 a.m. we located the black un-collared wolf again in the area with a bunch of coyotes.  I heard the wolf was there off and on most of the day and the grizzly returned between 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. At 7:20 a.m. we had a grizzly in the river corridor south and across the Lamar River in Lamar Valley, straight south of the Institute.  At 9:00 a.m. we watched all four of the Lamar Canyon wolves, still missing Mottled, north of Picnic Area in Lamar Valley.  At 10:00 a.m. some of the Junction Butte wolves were in the same area of Slough Creek as last night, way to the west near log jam.   I counted a minimum of eight wolves, three blacks and five grays. I watched until after 12:00 noon.  They had a carcass in the Slough Creek river corridor that was out of sight as they kept going downhill and west out of sight and returning to bed on high ground where we could see them.  All eleven were probably in the area.  It rained in the afternoon, but cleared somewhat by 5:00 p.m. Becky, Chloe and I set up at Lamar Canyon West and watched the wolves again until 7:15 p.m. The first hour they were just gray and black balls in the scope sleeping.  The last hour they began to stir and went downhill and out of sight returning to the carcass and then coming back into view and re-bedding.  Around 5:45 p.m. a really large black grizzly walked thru the area.  The back wolf was still feeding on the carcass at Blacktail Ponds on my way back to Gardiner near dark.

Other News

The road at Phantom Lake is closed including the pullouts.  About three weeks ago a black bear and a yearling cub appeared for a couple hours near there, and she returned to the curvet under the road which is their den.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers:  From Montana:  Rick M, Doug M, Melba C, Josh A, Becky and Chloe.  From Missouri:  Don and Carol.  Bear Watchers:  From Montana:  Doug and JoAnn M, Jack G, and Mike W.  From California:  Les and Cole W.  Others:  From Montana:  Dan, Cindy and Kelly H, Bob L, Alan O, Tonya M, Nathan V, Deby D, Leo L, MacNeil L, Cliff B, Ken T, and Linda T.  From Colorado:  Jim and Bobbie F.

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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