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Yellowstone National Park 2023 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

06 through 09 April 2023
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear taken Spring 2023 ~ © Copyright Bruce Parler :#126; All Rights Reserved

First grizzly of the year ~ Blacktail Ponds ~ April 9th, 2023 ~ Photo by Bruce Parker © All Rights Reserved

~ April 2023 ~

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

Thursday - April 6th

22 degrees in Gardiner warming up to 28 degrees. At 7:10 a.m. Cliff B reported seeing a wolverine near the Enclosure in Lamar Valley. It was sitting on the snowbank off the road as he stopped about one hundred yards back. It soon moved uphill and out of sight. Cliff drove the road back and forth several times. He did get another glimpse of the wolverine near the Confluence, but that was the last sighting. It was Cliff's first wolverine sighting and he was disappointed he did not get any pictures. No one else stopped and saw the wolverine. I saw my first red tailed hawk today. Ray L and Kathy reported the black bear sow at Petrified Tree Pullout was briefly out of the den today eating some snow before going back into the den headfirst. The two cubs of the year were not seen today. At 10:10 a.m. Mike S and Doug M (wolf watcher) called with wolves in Soda Butte Valley. They were traveling west on the north side of the road passing the Soda Butte Cone. When I arrived the best place to view them was Footbridge Pullout. The black pup was leading this morning followed by the gray pup, 1228F and the gray alpha male. So, we had the whole pack in sight. They ran into a deep wooded ravine and out of sight for 15 minutes. 1228F returned to the clearing and bedded. Later the alpha male and the black and gray pups came out of the ravine and bedded near 1228F. The pups later moved off and the alpha male too moved off out of sight into the ravine. 1228F stayed bedded in sight until 12:20 p.m. The wolves probably have a slight case of the mange and were scratching a lot. We are now sure that there was a carcass in the ravine, seeing ravens fly in and out of it.

Friday - April 7th

24 degrees at Gardiner, but 4 degrees on the Blacktail Plateau and 2 degrees in the Lamar River Canyon warming up to a nice 45 degrees. At 8:00 a.m. Bruce P called with wolves in sight at the Footbridge Pullout. Again, the best viewing was from the Footbridge Pullout. They were bedded on a small hill near the deep wooded ravine. Only the black pup and 1228F were in sight at first. But later the gray pup showed up and lastly the alpha gray male. So, the entire pack was there again. Again, this morning ravens were flying into and out of the ravine, so there is definitely a carcass. 1228F was again doing a lot of scratching today. No grizzlies again today, that makes fourteen days in a row for me. The forecast is for nice warm weather in the 50's the next couple of days, so maybe that will bring out a few grizzlies.

Saturday - April 8th

36 degrees in Gardiner but only 30 degrees at Blacktail Plateau this morning warming up to 50 degrees plus. The nicest day since I arrived at the park. I started my day glassing from Upper Hellroaring Overlook. Only two dusky grouse visited me in the parking lot but moved though the parking lot and crossed the road before any cars came along. Kevin M showed me a badger digging into the snow and dirt southwest of Footbridge Pullout. He also had four bedded coyotes enjoying the warm afternoon sun near the digging badger. The Shrimp Lake Wolf Pack was again seen from Footbridge Pullout to the northeast, the same place as the last two days. All four were again seen. They moved into the deep wooden ravine for a while, then reappeared in the next clearing to the west for a few minutes of play before going over the hill and out of sight. No grizzlies for me again today.

Easter Sunday - April 9th

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

36 degrees in Gardiner but 25 degrees on the Blacktail Plateau this morning warming up to a gorgeous 53 degrees. I usually start my day at Blacktail Ponds. Over the years there is usually grizzly action there. Usually during the winter, a bison or two falls through the ice, drowns, and sinks to the bottom of the lake. The lake has one more thing that makes this a place for grizzlies in the spring. The sides of the lake fall off straight and deep. So often the bison cannot crawl out before they tire and drown. Then when it gets warmer in the spring, the corpses float to the surface. The grizzly with its great nose finds them. No grizzlies seen there yet this year at the ponds. So, my routine is to stop at the ponds, glass around, then sit in the car with windows down listening for wolf howls. At 6:10 a.m. I was there for about six minutes glassing and listening and decided it was time to go to Upper Hellroaring to scope there for bears and wolves. About 6:55 a.m. Bruce P calls a grizzly at Blacktail Ponds. Confused, I quickly headed back to the ponds. A large bore grizzly with a collar and a red ear tag in his right ear was fifty yards off the road digging in the snow that covered that part of the ponds. My first grizzly of the year. Now the question I had was which of two ways this happened. (1) the grizzly came to the ponds from the north arriving after 6:16 a.m. but before 6:40 a.m. when Jeff B found the grizzly on the pond or (2) was the grizzly there when I stopped and glassed and listened. My guess is that the grizzly crossed from the north. Jeff B said the grizzly had just started digging in the snow on top of the pond when he arrived.

I had two trumpeter swans flying up the Lamar River as I watched from the Crystal Pullout in Little America. Kevin M later walked down the Slough Creek Campground Road to Bob's Knob and saw the pair on the ground from there. Around 9:30 a.m. I went into the Soda Butte Valley. Apparently for two hours the Shrimp Creek Wolfpack had been visible on and off. When I arrived 1228F was on the south of the road howling. Joe K explained to me the remaining three wolves were north of the road. I stayed until after 11:00 a.m. 1228F was often in sight howling and I saw her most of the time. With no sightings of the three, around 10:30 a.m. we heard two howls from the north. The gray male was north of Soda Butte East Pullout howling. The second howl from the north was the two pups who were further to the west and north of Soda Butte Middle Pullout. With Joe K's help I watched the black pup leading the gray pup towards the gray male. Some of the best and longest wolf howling.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Rick M, Taylor R, Jeremy S, Doug M, Joe K, and Melba C. From Wyoming: Chris B. And From California: Bill W. Bear Watchers seen this report: From Louisiana: Bruce P. From Wyoming: Kevin M. From Oregon: Larry and Char T. And From Montana: Doug M, Chuck and Debbie, Jack G, Jeff B and Kathy M. Others seen this report: From Montana: Mike S, Cliff B, Ashea T, Nate U, Bob L, Grant J, and Michael S. From Idaho: Ray L and Kathy.

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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