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Yellowstone National Park 2016 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

24 through 27 April 2016

Yellowstone Buffalo taken Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright John William All Rights Reserved

~ April 2016 ~

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Sunday - April 24th

47 degrees in Gardiner but 40 degrees in Lamar Valley this morning, warming up to 51 degrees.  I saw golden eagles, kestrels, and a prairie falcon today.  At 6:05 a.m. I had a GPS collared gray wolf in the road between Boulder and Boulder Pond Pullouts.  In talking to Rick M. I think it was 911M the alpha male of the Junction Butte pack.  He took his time moving south and over the hill.  At 6:30 a.m. I spotted a black wolf somewhere south of Hubbard Hill from Coyote Overlook.  John G, Randi and I headed to Hubbard to confirm.  When we arrived we were surprised to see eight black and four gray wolves of the Mollies wolf pack trying to get bison calves from several herds of bison.  They eventually moved west up on Jasper Bench, but were in sight most of the day.  They were attempting to get the bison herds to run, but most of the time they stood their ground.  Then they would seek out a small herd and try to separate a cow and calf.  Once this almost worked as they had one calf down twice before another cow came back to help.  At 7:15 a.m. I spotted 992M Twin of the Lamar Canyon Pack north of Trash Can.  Unusual since the Mollies were no more that 3/4 of a mile from him.  At 10:50 a.m. I spotted the small grizzly on #2 finger of Norris best viewed from Soda Butte East turnout.  At 12:15 p.m. John G. made a great spot finding a small grizzly digging on the top of A-Z viewed from the Institute.  It moved east thru the bowl and out of sight.

Monday - April 25th

Yellowstone Antelope taken Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright John William All Rights Reserved

44 degrees in Gardiner and 37 degrees in Lamar Valley this morning, warming up to a rainy and cloudy 44 degrees.  We had poor visibility most of the morning.  At 6:30 a.m. John G. found the Mollies wolf pack, all twelve (eight black and four grays) bedded on Jasper Bench.  Another entire day of wolf watching between Jasper Bench and south of the Institute.  At 9:30 a.m. Doug M. (wolf watcher) called saying there was a grizzly in Slough Creek flats.  I arrived in time to see a large black grizzly moving along Slough Creek and out of sight.  A bunch of school kids arrived to view wolves and the grizzly reemerged so all the kids could watch wolves and a grizzly bear.  At 9:35 a.m. I found a gray un-collared Junction Butte wolf moving west in the creek corridor.  At 9:45 a.m. Doug M. found a black pup/now yearling near the den site.  At 1:20 p.m. the small grizzly was again on the #2 finger of Norris.  I hiked to Trout and Buck Lakes today will Wayne K.  The trail is free of snow, but a little muddy yet.  At 4:30 p.m. the weather wasn't getting any better so I headed in.  Jeff and Terri from Indiana were parked at the grassy marsh just east of Floating Island Lake so I pulled in to say hi.  They were watching a black wolf in the marsh.  It was chewing on a the white PVC pipe that sticks out of the marsh.  I think it was a Prospect Peak pack wolf, we had viewed two that looked like this wolf weeks ago at the Blacktail ponds.

Tuesday - April 26th

Buffalo and Magpie in Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

43 degrees this morning in Gardiner but 37 degrees in Lamar Valley warming up to a high of 44 degrees.  A windy and cloudy day, but good light for spotting most of the day.  At 7:15 a.m. 926F, 993M, and Little T of the Lamar Canyon wolf pack (missing 992M Twin today) were milling north of Soda Butte East pullout.  After I left the two females crossed the road to the south, but re-crossed the road back to the north, probably because 993M Dark Black is afraid of the road and would not go with them.  At 7:50 a.m. Bob L. called saying a small grizzly with a bunch of blond was south of the Institute.  It was still digging in the tree line when I arrived.  Later around noon we found it again digging in a small opening east of Square Meadow.  At 9:00 a.m. I spotted a large black bear high north and east of Boulder Pullout.  At 9:10 a.m. three black and three gray Junction Butte wolves were north of the river moving towards Buffalo Ford.  At 9:35 a.m. I found a dark grizzly with a brown or light nose north of Aspen Pullout.  Soon it began to run and found some sort of carcass.  We soon located an un-collared gray Junction Butte wolf that probably was responsible for the carcass.  The wolf bedded on a rock nearby until the grizzly finished and moved away.  At 4:00 p.m. John G, Ed A, and Randi told me two wolves had crossed the road south to north at YES pullout just east of the Institute.  I arrived only to see Little T moving up hill and out of sight. At 5:00 p.m. we had a black bear ten yards off the road on the southwest end of the Yellowstone River Bridge. At 5:35 p.m. my last sighting for the day was a black bear sow with one black yearling cub five feet off the road just west of Upper Hellroaring Pullout.

Wednesday - April 27th

Yellowstone Elk taken Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

38 degrees in Gardiner and 33 degrees in Lamar Valley in the morning warming up to a cold 46 degrees.  I had a several bald and golden eagles, a moose at Floating Island Lake, and my first golden mantled ground squirrel in several years behind Floating Island Lake today. I hiked behind Floating Island Lake with Randi M, John G, and Wayne K.  Around 1:00 p.m. we encountered a large black bear on our hike.   At 7:25 a.m. I spotted a nice sized grizzly south of the Soda Butte Cone digging in some aspens.  At 8:20 a.m. the small light grizzly was seen digging in some aspens south of YES Pullout near the tree line.   At 9:15 a.m. we had a collared grizzly north and west of Dorothy's Pullout in Lamar Valley.  At 9:40 a.m. the small grizzly digging once again on the #2 finger of Norris (same small grizzly we have been seeing on the fingers for a couple of weeks).  At 10:20 a.m. I found eleven Mollies wolves high on the Middle Ridge in Crystal Drainage viewed from Lamar Canyon West.  A brief sighting as they were moving fast to the east, Randi M. got a firm count of at least eleven wolves before they disappeared.  I moved to Coyote Overlook expecting them to show up in Lamar Valley.  Forty five minutes later we caught five moving east just east of A-Z Meadow.  Then nothing for hours.  At 3:15 p.m. we found them again as they showed up and bedded on the #1 sliver of Ski Slope.  They were still bedded after 5:00 p.m. when I left.  At 6:00 p.m. we had a black bear sow with one yearling cub again just east of Upper Hellroaring and just off the road.  Mom was grazing and the yearling was up a tree about 10 feet.  At 6:35 a.m. we also had a large black bear just off the road in the Chinese Gardens close to the North Entrance at Gardiner.  Bear Management was on duty directing traffic around the bear.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers:  From Montana:  Rick M, Doug M, Melba C, Josh A, Deby D, Ilona P, and Emily A.  From Colorado:  Don G Anne W, and Ric and Kathy T.  From Idaho:  Rick E, and Natalie and Warren B.  From California:  Bob and Nell H, and Joe  From Utah:  Jerry C, and Richard B and his new wife.  Bear Watchers:  From Washington  John B, Randi M, and Froeme and Judy.  From Colorado:  Ed A.  From Illinois:  Wayne K.  From Montana:  Doug M.  From Indiana:  Jeff and Terri.  Others:  From Montana:  Bob L, Pete B, Ed (bear jam ranger and Washburn Lookout fire watcher), and Alan and Sue O.  From Oregon:  Dale and Elva P.  From Washington:  Ed.  From Florida:  Rick.  From Arizona:  David and Phyllis.  From Louisiana:  Bruce. And from Utah:  Bob B.

Mount Haynes in Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler Bunsen Peak in Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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Buffalo Youngsters Playing - April 16th, 2016 - Lamar Valley

Buffalo in Lamar Valley taken Spring 2016 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Can you see the four Antelope?

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