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Yellowstone National Park 2023 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

18 through 21 April 2023
Yellowstone National Park

Beautiful Mountain Lion ~ Lamar Valley ~ April 10th, 2023 ~ Photo by Linda Rudge Carney ~ All Rights Reserved

Beautiful Mountain Lion ~ Lamar Valley ~ April 10th, 2023 ~ Photo by Linda Rudge Carney © All Rights Reserved

Mountain Lion ~ also known as the Cougar, Puma, Panther, or Catamount ~ Puma concolor

~ April 2023 ~

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

Tuesday - April 18th

43 degrees in Gardiner but only 32 degrees at Hellroaring this morning warming up to 38 degrees. I viewed a moose up close near the Upper Hellroaring Pullout this morning. I had a golden eagle flying up the Lamar River near the Lamar River Bridge this morning. I got an earlier start this morning and at 5:10 a.m. I was watching the grizzly for the nineth day in a row at the Blacktail Ponds. Quite dark at that time of morning, but Bob L said he had wolf howling earlier. As it got lighter, I could see a black wolf approaching the grizzly now bedded on top of the bison carcass. The wolf got within a couple of feet of the grizzly before it decided that was not going to get him any of the carcass. As it got lighter Frank H and I identified four black and one gray wolf bedded across the ponds. With four blacks in the pack, we knew we had five of the ten Rescue Creek wolfpack. I left going east but Frank H stayed and watched the wolves move away. The bear later moved off uphill and out of sight and was not back by the carcass site when I passed just before 6:00 p.m. tonight. At 8:45 a.m. I heard that wolves were being seen in Lamar Valley. The Junction Butte wolves had taken down a cow bison just north of Footbridge Pullout. I arrived and the carcass was out of sight in a gully, but I did see five grays and two black wolves moving away and up and over the nearest hill. Others had seen fourteen or fifteen wolves, so I assume most of the wolves of the Junction Butte pack were there. At 10:20 a.m. Doug M (wolf watcher) found a black wolf in Crystal Drainage viewed from the Lamar Canyon West Pullout. Shortly after that Doug suggested we relocate to Crystal Pullout. Cara M came along and sighted the black wolf who we found was collared. It was later determined that it was 1386F of the Junction Butte Pack. She moved north crossing the road and then crossed the Lamar River Bridge. We asked two cars coming from the west to stop and they watched the female wolf cross the bridge. I shared my scope with a lady from the first car and she enjoyed watching the wolf move south, about a ten-minute sighting. From 2:45 p.m. through 4:30 p.m. I returned to Footbridge Pullout to watch the carcass area. Over the next couple of hours two different collared gray wolves and one black uncollared wolf made brief appearances. At 5:00 p.m. I stopped at the black bear den at Petrified Tree Pullout. Only the large paws of the sow black bear were visible then.

Wednesday - April 19th

28 degrees in Gardiner but 24 degrees in Lamar Valley this morning warming up to a cold 35 degrees with afternoon wind. I saw my first bison calf today; the cow and calf were walking down the road between Petrified Tree Pullout and Tower Junction. I arrived early at Blacktail Ponds at about 5:10 a.m. We could see what we thought was the grizzly bedded next to a small bushy tree (on two other mornings the grizzly had bedded near that bushy tree but could not be sure until he raised his head about 5:35 a.m. Today is the tenth day that the grizzly has been on the carcass. Actually, two wolves from the Rescue Creek pack came to the carcass while the grizzly napped by the bushy tree. One wolf was 1273M and one was uncollared, both were black. One wolf crossed the road to the south and the second moved east passing close by the grizzly. As the wolf approached the grizzly the grizzly was on its back stretching. The wolf passed by about four feet from the grizzly who barely acknowledged the passing wolf. At 9:00 a.m. I found a large dark grizzly just above the Buffalo Ford viewed from Boulder Pullout. Bruce P was close and got to see the grizzly before it disappeared after about six minutes. At 11:00 a.m. the grizzly reappeared in the same clearing as the 9:00 a.m. sighting. Kevin M and Frank H got there in time to see the grizzly. The second sighting lasted about nine minutes. We determined that the grizzly was a large dark grizzly. At 3:15 p.m. Kevin M refound the grizzly bedded about twenty yards from the clearing of the first and second sighting. This sighting lasted until 4:15 p.m. went we left. The grizzly was really lethargic during all three sightings. The last sighting it spent most of the time bedded lifting its head once in a while. When it stood up it hardly moved. During all the sightings it never moved over thirty yards from the first sighting.

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

Thursday - April 20th

29 degrees with light snow on the ground at Gardiner but only 21 degrees at Blacktail Ponds this morning with light snow on the roads warming up to 36 degrees with chilly winds. We viewed a badger south of Curve Pullout in Little America late this morning. I viewed three grizzlies today: 1. At 5:30 a.m. for the eleventh straight day the grizzly was at the Blacktail Ponds, this morning it was laying on the bison carcass. A collared black wolf of the Rescue Creek pack was trying to encourage the grizzly to share or leave, the wolf was not successful. 2. At 6:25 a.m. yesterday's grizzly viewed from Boulder Pullout was in the same area as yesterday, above the Buffalo Ford area. The lethargic behavior of yesterday became clear this morning when we noticed the grizzly was on a bison carcass. We thought early this morning that it was a complete carcass but by this afternoon it was clear the carcass was almost completely gone. The grizzly easily moved the carcass around. Pretty good viewing most of the day, except for a period of about two hours when the grizzly bedded out of sight. Four coyotes visited the carcass area, and the grizzly came to the carcass bedding close to it. 3. At 8:20 a.m. I found a large dark grizzly east of the Horizontal Forest in Slough Creek traveling west. It traveled above the Horizontal Forest then through the Diagonal Forest then through the Lion Meadow then under the Slough Creek den area. Frank H and I lost him approaching the area of the Marge Simpson Tree. We thought there was a chance it would travel to the Buffalo Ford area and discover the other grizzly and carcass, but it did not.

Yellowstone Wolf Pup ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved

Friday - April 21st

The west gate opened this morning allowing travel from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful, West Yellowstone to Mammoth Hot Springs, and Norris to Canyon. 30 degrees in Gardiner but only 25 degrees at Blacktail Ponds this morning warming up to 40 degrees but with a very chilly wind. The biggest action of today was the otters in Lamar Canyon. Lots of different sightings of numerous otters. I stopped to see a courting pair of otters on the other side of the Lamar River. Quite the jams from time to time today. At 4.57 a.m. I was parked at Blacktail Ponds when another car pulled in, leaving its lights on. The grizzly was bedded beside a bushy tree where it has bedded several times before this, today was the 12th day the grizzly has been seen on the ponds in the morning. I watched in little light until in stood up then headed on to the east. After I left the grizzly came to the carcass then moved west trying to cross the road to the south. A car or two followed along preventing him from crossing to the south. It returned to the carcass area and laid down in some open water which he has done most days. Then it moved west again and crossed the road to the south. The carcass is completely gone, I will be surprised if it returns. At 6:15 a.m. I found the grizzly on the bison carcass just above the Buffalo Ford viewed from Boulder Pullout. The carcass was moved down the hill into an open area where I watched it for over an hour. Most of the morning we had small snowstorms moving through the area, so for about two hours we could not see it. When the storms cleared up another hour or so of good watching. Early afternoon it disappeared up and out of sight for about two hours. Around 4:00 p.m. it was out again chewing on the carcass. Quite a few people got to watch that grizzly today.

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Rick M, Doug M, Taylor R, Jeremy S, and Carolyn G. From Missouri: Frank H. From California: Jim and Amber, and Glenda M and Rick. From Washington: David and Stefanie O. From Massachusetts: Jon W. Bear Watchers seen this report: From Louisiana: Bruce P. From Wyoming: Kevin M. And from Idaho: Jon and Karen E. Others seen this report: From Montana: MacNeil L, Bob L, Audra C and mom Lish, Cara M, Dan and Cindy H, Michele, Ken S, Dimitar N. Evan S, Mike S, and Nate U. From Wyoming: Pete B. From Rhode Island: Mark L. From Idaho: Ray T. And from Virginia: Big John B.

Beautiful Mountain Lion ~ Lamar Valley ~ April 10th, 2023 ~ Photo by Linda Rudge Carney ~ All Rights Reserved

Beautiful Mountain Lion ~ Lamar Valley ~ April 10th, 2023 ~ Photo by Linda Rudge Carney © All Rights Reserved

Mountain Lion ~ also known as the Cougar, Puma, Panther, or Catamount ~ Puma concolor

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