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Yellowstone National Park 2021 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

05 through 08 April 2021
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Black Bear Cubs Playing by John William Uhler ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ April 2021 ~

Mountain Blue Bird ~ © Copyright Sriram Udhaya All Rights Reserved

Monday - April 5th

It was 46 degrees in Gardiner but 37 degrees at Slough Creek only rising to 39 degrees in the afternoon. The Junction Butte wolf pack had been seen early from Elk Creek but then disappeared. At 8:00 a.m. I found five black and one gray wolf near the Southern Round Tree in Slough Creek. They quickly disappeared traveling out of sight to the east in the Slough Creek corridor. They reappeared heading further east and others counted all twenty-two wolves including seven grays (I only saw the six briefly) going out of sight heading up Slough Creek. At 8:10 a.m. I found a grizzly also near the Southern Round tree in Slough Creek. He slowly moved north bedding twice for a minute or two then climbed up over Junction Pass and out of sight. At 10:00 a.m. I found a dark grizzly chasing a bull bison as I was looking north from Boulder Pullout. The chase did not last long and the grizzly slowly reversed directions going out of sight to the north after fifteen minutes of watching. At 1:40 p.m. we had a black bear sleeping near the Fish Den on Garnett Hill.

Tuesday - April 6th

36 degrees and snowing in Gardiner this morning warming up to a cool 43 degrees. The snow started sticking to the road in Mammoth and between Hellroaring Overlook and Tower Falls there was about four inches of snow on the roads. The roads were very slippery I think because it was raining first then froze when the rain changed to snow. The visibility was terrible until about 11:00 a.m. About 11:00 a.m. the snow changed to a light rain and visibility improved. I walked down Slough Creek road to Bob's Knob to see what was around. At 11:30 a.m. I spotted wolves coming into view from the east. Dan and Susan W counted twelve blacks and five grays. Paul H followed the lead wolf all the way to the Sage Den in Slough Creek. To all our surprise, a collared gray female came out of the den. So, we viewed eighteen of the pack of twenty-two. I think it is safe to assume that the Junction Butte wolf pack will den in Slough Creek this year. Between 4:15 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. I watched a tall grizzly above Fisherman's Pullout in Lamar from near the Long Pullout in Little America. He was digging on a snow free ridge. A young boar would be my guess because there was a lot of space between the ground and his belly. He only moved five to ten feet while we were watching him, so he found something to dig up and eat.

Wednesday - April 7th

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

It was 34 degrees at Gardiner but 25 degrees at Hellroaring warming up to a nice 54 degrees. I viewed a moose down in the trees viewed from Upper Hellroaring. At 6:50 a.m. I found a grizzly crossing the yellow grass meadow in front of Tornado Drainage viewed from Upper Hellroaring moving north to south. At 7:10 a.m. I found another grizzly crossing the yellow grass meadow below the Basalt Cliffs at Hellroaring also moving north to south. About 7:50 a.m. the grizzly reappeared now re-crossing the yellow grass meadow but moving south to north. At 8:00 a.m. a single black wolf was seen on the upper east part of the large clearing on the slopes of Hellroaring. Looked to me like a pup or yearling probably from the Junction Butte pack (the last few days less than the total twenty-two wolves have been seen of the Junction Butte pack). At first light I heard wolves howling from west of Hellroaring Overlook However, the Junction Butte wolves were being seen at Slough Creek this morning (I did not see them today). So, the question was who the howling wolves were. Later at Elk Creek we located 1154F group which consists of seven black and three gray wolves. They usually are found far to the west around Mt. Evers. They were chasing bison and then chasing elk and we had good viewing for twenty minutes or so before they chased elk over a hill to the north and out of sight. I was excited as this was the first time, I got to see the pack and all ten were in view.

Thursday - April 8th

34 degrees in Gardiner but 28 degrees at Hellroaring warming up to 46 degrees. Nice day until about 11:00 a.m. then the wind came up. Then at 4:00 p.m. a snowstorm came in and the temperatures dropped from 46 degrees to 28 degrees in 45 minutes. I headed in and the snow was starting to stick on the roads. I had my first vulture of the year flying over Slough Creek today. Boulder Pond has a little open water in it now and I found my first muskrat there today. I had a THREE DOG DAY today. At 8:00 a.m. the Junction Butte wolves were north of Boulder Pullout checking out the bison. I counted fifteen but others had twenty or twenty-one. They reappeared briefly near the Marge Simpson tree just before noon but after fifteen minutes went out of sight into the river corridor. At 1:10 p.m. a black wolf was spotted coming out of the sage den in Slough Creek. At 10:45 a.m. the black bear was sleeping behind a pine tree under the Fish Den on Garnett Hill. At 3:15 p.m. I found a grizzly digging in some bare ground north of Fisherman's Pullout in Lamar Valley viewed from Long Pullout in Little America. Only good viewing was when he crossed the snow from one bare spot to another.

The big news in the park involved the Blacktail Ponds. On Monday two bison fell into the closest pond and drowned. On Tuesday five more bison got into the pond (three joined the two already dead ones, and three got into a pond about 100 yards from the road). On Wednesday, all seven were dead and floating but no bear action. Today a grizzly approached after daylight from the east but got nervous with all the cars and some bison ran it off.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Rick M, Doug M, Reve and Susan, Janice and Cindy H, Jeremy S, Marlene F, Quinn and Bonnie H, and Melba C. From Michigan: Dan and Susan W. From Utah: Paul H. Bear Watchers seen this report: From Montana: Jack G. Louisiana: Bruce P. Others seen this report: From Montana: Cara M, MacNeil L, Emil M, Reggie and Linda C, Bob L, Taylor B, Cliff B, Grant J, Steve B, Carl S, and Audra C. From Colorado: Jim and Bobbie F. From the Netherlands: Jort V. and from Idaho: Warren and Natalie B.

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