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Yellowstone National Park 2017 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

25 through 28 March 2017

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

~ March 2017 ~

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 March

I left Idaho Falls just after 5:15 a.m. and made good time despite a little rain and snow and slushy roads arriving in Gardiner well before noon. Yellowstone had a heavy snow year this year so I was quite surprised to find a lot of bare ground everywhere. Gardiner and Mammoth are bare ground. Hellroaring slopes are bare 7/8 to way to the top. I hiked down the Slough Creek road and it is bare all the way in fact most of the area north of the road is bare except the very tops of the hills. Even in Lamar Valley clearings like Ski Slope are 60 percent bare. I hear above Pebble Creek including Silver Gate and Cooke City still have lots and lots of snow. Usually when I arrive the antelope are still in Gardiner. But this year they have migrated all the way up to Little America and Slough Creek areas. The bald eagle nest north of Long Pullout has both eagles hanging around so should have eagles this year. No golden eagles on the nest down the Slough Creek road, but someone said they saw a pair mating a week or so ago. The great horned owl nest at Lamar Canyon east is still empty, but I have heard hoots before daylight at Blacktail Ponds. I did not have any bears or wolves today, but some were still in the park. The elk are coming back with more and more seen everyday up to about Slough Creek; still little wildlife in Lamar.

Sunday - 26 March

A nice day with a high of 46 and lots of sun. For nine or ten days there has been at least one grizzly in the Blacktail Ponds and about 6:20 a.m. it was light enough to see the one there this morning. Nothing left of the two carcasses, so this grizzly was chewing on some old hides and bones. At 6:35 a.m. Amy T heard a wolf howling and found a gray wolf. I soon located two black wolves and all three moved east up and over the hill. The wolf people thought they were a sub group of the Prospect Peak wolf pack. At 8:30 a.m. Calvin called saying Lynette had a grizzly at Wrecker Pullout. I arrived just after it disappeared over a hill going towards Elk Creek. Calvin suggested Tower Junction or Ricks Pullout, and he was right. A nice sized grizzly came over the hill and visited an old carcass. At 8:45 a.m. Lynette found five gray Prospect Peak wolves far west going into the trough from Wrecker Pullout. I was still at Ricks Pullout but Calvin's directions helped me see the last three of the five before they disappeared to the west towards Hellroaring. At 5:00 p.m. after hours of glassing and spotting, Sian J. found the wolves east of Little Buffalo Creek from Upper Hellroaring. Only three of five made appearances before I left for the evening.

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Monday - 27 March

39 degrees in Gardiner but only 32 degrees at Blacktail Ponds in the morning. No more grizzlies at Blacktail Ponds. It rained and snowed in the morning and it was cloudy until late in the afternoon with a high of 47 degrees. Lots of bluebirds and a few golden eagles with a couple of red tail hawks today with a northern harrier or two. At 8:20 a.m. I found a grizzly in the rock formation north and east of Buffalo Ford viewed from Boulder Pullout. It was a dark grizzly with a light face that was grazing on something. I watched it for a while and then saw it again about 10:00 a.m. about 50 yards south of the first location. The grizzly was definily grazing, no digging and no carcass around. At 9:30 a.m. Calvin found an un-collared gray wolf on the hill east of Tower Junction (either a Junction Butte or Prospect Peak pack member). Soon Calvin found four black wolves who Sian identified as the Lamar Canyon wolf packs (they were out of their territory that has been east of Institute and usually in the Soda Butte Valley). They disappeared over the hill before I got to see them, but they were in view from Wrecker Pullout later. Around 1:00 p.m. Calvin and Lynette went to Cottonwood Lookout at Geode Creek to look for the Prospect Peak wolves that were around earlier but never seen. He located five black wolves, one was collared of the 8 Mile Pack. They were north of the road but south of the Yellowstone River for some nice viewing (I only saw four of the five wolves). At 2:30 p.m. and in sight until past 5:00 p.m. I found the grizzly with one yearling on Junction Butte from the Tower Ranger Station. This is the grizzly we called the Middle Ridge or Specimen Ridge grizzly who had three coy's last year but lost two of them before fall. This is a very early sighting of a sow with a yearling, and last fall this family was seen the first and second week of November near Junction Butte which is very late in the year to still be out.

Yellowstone Wolf and Buffalo ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Tuesday - 28 March

31 degrees this morning with a light covering of fresh snow in the higher country, warming up to a nice sunny 46 degrees. A few sand hill cranes showing up now and a half dozen or so trumpeter swans in Slough Creek. I hiked up to the Rose Creek pen above the Institute today with Calvin and Lynette J, Kathie L, Sian J and her friend. Tonight I walked behind the Mammoth Visitor center and saw the male great horned owl, so we should have a nest of owlets this spring/summer. I bypassed Blacktail Ponds this morning and went straight to Hellroaring Overlook before daylight. Then I got reports of a grizzly at Blacktail Ponds again, so I headed back to see him and was glad I did because that was my only bear today. At 8:40 a.m. Carl S. spotted wolf 821F and two gray wolves south of the Yellowstone River from Upper Hellroaring. They moved west and were later viewed from Wrecker Pullout. At 9:50 a.m. the wolf plane flew today and told the wolf people were to find the four Lamar Canyon wolves north of the Yellowstone River also from Upper Hellroaring. The Lamar Canyon pack has four wolves all black. The pack consists of 923F the alpha female, 949M the alpha male, little T a daughter of 923F's and small dot a male who along with 949M came from the Beartooth pack outside the park.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Becky and Chloe, Kathie L, Amy T, Doug M, Melba C, Rick M, Dan and Laurie L, and Lizzie C. From Wyoming: Larry and Linda H. From Colorado: Steve and Robin M. From Missouri: Don and Carol L. From the UK: Sian and Phyl J, and Alan and Kirsty P. From Kansas: Calvin and Lynette J. From Utah: Marlene F. Bear Watchers: From Montana: Mike and Kathy W. Others: From Montana: Bob L, Cliff B, Greg, Tracie, Megan, Ryan, Kyle, and Tyler R. Evan S, Carl S, George B, Dan and Cindy H. and Steve B. And last 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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