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Yellowstone National Park 2023 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

02 through 05 April 2023
Yellowstone National Park

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

~ April 2023 ~

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

Sunday - April 2nd

25 degrees in Gardiner but only 18 degrees at Hellroaring Overlook this morning with some early low visibility warming up to 32 degrees and a nice day. Kevin M showed me a golden eagle this morning hunting ducks on the Lamar River. Lots of bison and antelope around Gardiner this time of year and lots of mule deer and elk in the town of Gardiner. No grizzly or wolf sightings today for me.

Monday - April 3rd

19 degrees in Gardiner this morning but -3 degrees (welcome to April in Yellowstone) at the S Curve on Blacktail Plateau this morning warming up to 36 degrees with lots of blue skies and sun. Later this afternoon a cool front brought in the wind and cooler temperatures. At 11:15 a.m. I found a gray wolf low near Hellroaring Creek viewed from Lower Hellroaring Pullout. Jeff A identified the wolf as 907F the alpha female of the Junction Butte Pack. At 1:00 a.m. I found a black wolf in the same general area. The wolf moved west, and we lost it behind a snow ridge. Jeff A was at Upper Hellroaring and picked up the black wolf from his advantage point. He followed it to a fresh elk carcass. Jeff showed me the area of the carcass which included three black wolves. He eventually had a count of eleven wolves in or around the carcass area.

Tuesday - April 4th

28 degrees in Gardiner but only 19 degrees at Hellroaring Overlook this morning warming up to 29 degrees with cloud cover all day. I had a THREE DOG DAY today, plus a second fox in Crystal Drainage. I viewed a bedded cow moose from Elk Creek Pullout this afternoon. I started my day at Hellroaring Overlook mainly to show Rick M where yesterday's elk carcass was located. Before 7:00 a.m. Rick had found the wolves in the area of yesterday's carcass. We ended up with ten Junction Butte wolves this morning to the west of Hellroaring. Around 7:20 a.m. Bruce P called with information that a new carcass was on Blacktail Plateau. When I arrived Kevin M was at the pullout just east of the Blacktail Deer Creek restroom. Kevin explained that they had the Rescue Creek pack with all wolves there this morning (seven black and three gray wolves). They had killed a bison near the willows. Most of the pack was slowly moving away from the carcass but a couple of wolves were still eating. Someone noticed a fox near the carcass and when the last wolf left the carcass it dived in and got a nice size piece. A few of the wolves were rubbing their heads in the snow to clean their faces. With most of the wolves out of sight, I returned to Upper Hellroaring. I found three of the pups just on the other side of the Hellroaring Creek traveling quickly to the east. Glassing the slopes of Hellroaring I found what turned out to be the other seven Junction Butte pups traveling quickly west to east across the middle of the slopes of Hellroaring. They soon moved into the a trough and out of sight. Later some watchers spotted them from Petrified Tree Pullout, and later still wolf watchers saw them in Aspen Drainage near Slough Creek. Most of the watchers walked down to Bob's Knob to get a closer view when they appeared. They must have stalled out because they never reappeared. Around noon someone found wolves south of Hobart Hill in Lamar Valley traveling to the east. When I arrived, they were crossing Amethyst Bench. They disappeared behind Jasper Bench with no one seeing them from Dorothy's and Coyote Pullouts. Most of the watchers when to Crystal Pullout in Little America while I stopped at the Slough Creek entrance road. They reappeared for a few quick sightings. Around 2:00 P.M. Melba C found two wolves bedded behind Crystal Rock. After I left, she viewed a gray wolf joining the bedded black and collared gray wolf. Rick M identified the large black as the alpha male of the Junction Buttes and two of the three gray wolves were collared. I stopped at the Petrified Tree Pullout to check on the black bear den. Nothing in sight for me, but Ray L and Kathy had spent a lot of time there watching and reported only seeing the sow's paws in the den hole. I stopped at Elk Creek and saw the bedded cow moose that others had seen earlier. I checked with Kevin M on the way back and he said no action at the bison carcass since 11:00 a.m.

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Wednesday - April 5th

17 degrees in Gardiner but only 6 degrees at Blacktail Plateau this morning warming up to 28 degrees. Blue skies most of the day but clouds and a cool wind came in during the afternoon. I see that H-K Contractors from Idaho Falls, who was awarded the contract for the new Yellowstone River Bridge near Gardiner, was bringing in a lot of equipment this week. One backhoe type machine was returning snow east of the Wagon Ride area at Roosevelt Junction. It looked like possible making some type of road. I arrived at the pullout just east of Blacktail Deer Creek restroom before daylight. Hoping to find a grizzly on yesterday's bison carcass, but only ravens on the carcass this morning. However, the Rescue Creek wolfpack was still in the area. I counted six blacks and all three grays but Evan S stayed longer and accounted for the seven blacks meaning the entire pack was present this morning. A lot of howling off and on as they got ready to depart the area. I proceeded to travel to the east, glassing at Hellroaring, Elk Creek, Boulder and Slough Creek without finding anything. I headed further east and was awarded with wolves in the Soda Butte Valley. 1228F, the gray male and one black and one gray pup (that's the entire pack) were out in good view today. The pack has been named the Shrimp Lake Pack. You may remember that last year her mate was a black wolf. Unfortunately, that wolf was killed in the Montana hunt, which this year allowed six to be harvested. At 11:00 a.m. I checked out the black bear den at the Petrified Tree Pullout. Only a paw of the sow showing while I was there. That pullout like Upper Hellroaring is a sheet of ice. Stopping by the bison carcass on the Blacktail on the way back to Gardiner I saw only ravens and two golden eagles on the carcass.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Rick M, Melba C, Jeremy S, Taylor R, Doug M, Michael S, and Ilona P. From Canada: Jeff A. From: North Dakota: Sandy H. And From Wisconsin: Beth P. Bear Watchers seen this report: From Montana: Doug M. From Louisiana: Bruce P. From Oregon: Larry and Char T. And From Wyoming: Kevin M. Others seen this report: From Montana: Bob L, Evan S, Grant J, Mikael S, and Nate. From Idaho: Ray L and Kathy. And from the Netherlands: Jort V.

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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