Yellowstone National Park 2019 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
02 thru 05 April 2019 - Yellowstone National Park
~ April 2019 ~
Tuesday - April 2nd
36 degrees in Gardiner and 25 degrees at Slough Creek in the morning warming up to 47 degrees. I saw a fox, golden eagle and a muskrat today. All the grizzly action this morning was from Bob's Knob down the Slough Creek Road. At 7:00 a.m. the large grizzly was already across the creek in the bottom of Lion Meadow. He slowly moved up hill and out of sight but good viewing for over fifteen minutes. Also at 7:30 a.m. another grizzly came to the carcass. This one was quite unsettled by our presence (about 500 yards from Bob's Knob to the winter kill bison carcass) and after ten minutes ran off towards the hill. It stayed in view for another fifteen minutes slowly going up the hill. Around 7:45 a.m. a third grizzly came to the carcass from the west. It didn't seem too interested in the carcass at first, but did spend about thirty minutes on the carcass before leaving going to the east. At 2:00 p.m. I stopped at the Nature Trail on the Blacktail Plateau where all nine wolves of the 8 Mile pack had killed a bison in the morning. The carcass was out of sight in a ravine but I did see one bedded black wolf. Returning at 6:00 p.m. we found a total of seven (four black and one gray) bedded on a hill near the ravine with the carcass. The 8 Mile wolf pack has five black and four gray wolves in the pack now. I did have a THREE DOG DAY today - a fox, coyote, and wolf.
Wednesday - April 3rd
40 degrees in Gardiner and 31 degrees at Slough Creek this morning warming up to 47 degrees. We had four bull moose at the Confluence this morning. All have lost the antlers and one has begun to grow the new antlers. I saw my first Meadowlark of the year at Trash Can Pullout this morning. I had a golden eagle and lots of bald eagles today near the carcass at Slough and up in Lamar Valley. I did have a THREE DOG DAY today with a second fox later this afternoon.
At 7:00 a.m. I arrived at Bob's Knob finding the only grizzly already half way to the hillskill. It stayed in good view for another thirty minutes. At 7:50 a.m. Bruce P found the Junction Butte wolves south of Trash Can Pullout. Eventually all eleven were accounted for. 969F was a distance from the pack and 1109F was farther behind. This time of year the females dominate one another. 907F is the alpha who dominates the three others, and the un-collared black female is currently number 2. That explains why the two other females are a little separated from the main group. At 4:20 p.m. I found a grizzly on Specimen Ridge from Elk Creek Pullout (four miles plus). He was roaming through the Junction Butte pack and moved in several directions before going over the top of the ridge. Meanwhile for the next hour we watched the Junction Butte wolves, all eleven. They move to the west eventually disappearing into the Yellowstone River corridor. They briefly chased six big horn sheep into the rocks and mildly chased a group of elk but never got close to them.
Thursday - April 4th
44 degrees in Gardiner and 37 degrees in Lamar Valley in the morning warming up to 45 degrees. We had light rain in the morning. I had an American Dipper in the Yellowstone River this morning. At 7:00 a.m. the grizzly from Bob's Knob in Slough Creek was on the bison carcass for only ten minutes this morning. He moved off following the same trail as yesterday into the trees on the hill, definitely the same grizzly as yesterday morning. At 9:30 a.m. I found the Junction Butte wolves on Specimen Ridge from Elk Creek. They remained bedded until about 6:00 p.m. tonight when they moved north towards the road. All eleven were seen. Only one wolf crossed the road, the others turned back. Lots of howling from both the single north and the other ten to the south. I am sure they will all cross the road to the area near Boulder Pullout later tonight.
Friday - April 5th
46 degrees at Gardiner and 36 degrees at Slough Creek this morning warning up to 47 degrees with rain off and on most of the day. The kestrel is back at Aspen Pullout so hope nesting will occur soon. I had a cow and calf moose in the willows south of the S Curve on Blacktail Plateau tonight. I walked behind the visitor center at Mammoth tonight and watched the male great horned owl in a pine tree across from the nest.
At about 7:00 a.m. I walked down to Bob's Knob at Slough Creek to check the winter kill bison carcass. One big grizzly was on the carcass and another one was bedded about 100 yards to the west with a black collared Junction Butte wolf between them. This arrangement lasted until the first grizzly left the carcass. The second grizzly got up and slowly moved to the carcass but the wolf got there first and got a few bites before the second grizzly arrived. Then the first grizzly decided to return to the carcass. They met and a lot of posing and circling each other. Soon both were up on rear legs and began to swat each other with their front paws. One grizzly then grabbed the other with his mouth on the side of the others face and shook. When the grizzly let go, the other grabbed the face of the other and shook. A lot of growling during all of this. They soon got back to all fours and slowly circled each other. The wolf meanwhile got to the carcass for lots of bites. The circling lasted for ten minutes or so, we thought they might go back to fighting but they didn't. The wind then shifted now coming from the south. One grizzly looked up at us and turned and ran for the hills and trees. Then the second grizzly did the same. The wolf decided to exit going west along the Slough Creek. At 10:30 a.m. I was with others at Hellroaring Overlook trying to find the Junction Butte pack through the fog. I located them just east of the Hellroaring Creek traveling west. Then the fog moved in again. I counted eight of the eleven members of the pack Jeremy counted nine. Two were absent from the pack. One was the collared black at the Sough Creek carcass earlier and the second wolf later crossed the road south to north at the Curve Pullout. At 11:15 a.m. Amy T called me saying she had a grizzly at the Curve Pullout near Boulder Pullout. I arrived in time to see the grizzly had buried the carcass south of the road in the first line of trees. Good viewing for about a half hour then he moved away going east and over a ridge.
Wolf Watchers: From Mississippi: Chuck and Wynelle M. From Arizona: Reve and Susan. From Michigan: Dan and Susan R-W. From California: Bob and Nell H. From the UK: Alan and Kirsty P. From Montana: Melba C, Rick M, Amy T and Ilona P. From Wyoming: Larry and Linda H. From Colorado: Jeremy S. Bear Watchers: From Louisiana: Bruce P. Others seen this report: From Montana: Nick and Diane L, the Rich Family (Greg, Tracie, Megan, Ryan, Kyle, and Tyler), Ken S, Bob L, Cliff B, Linda C, Evan S, Allen K, Emil M, and Russ K. From Idaho: Rob M and Karyn D. And from the Netherlands: Jort V.
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