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Yellowstone National Park 2023 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin

22 through 25 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

Saturday - April 22nd

29 degrees in Gardiner but only 23 degrees at Blacktail Ponds this morning warming up to 41 degrees with a chilly wind in the afternoon. I started my morning like usual at Blacktail Ponds just after 5:00 a.m. For the first time in thirteen days the grizzly was not present. At 6:15 a.m. I found the grizzly for the fourth day in a row just above the Buffalo Ford viewed from Boulder Pullout. I watched for a while and stopped back several times this morning and the grizzly remained bedded near the bison carcass with no other grizzly and no wolf sightings early in the morning. The grizzly drew quite a crowd at Boulder Pullout and even some at Curve Pullout. Tonight, I stopped by about 5:00 p.m. and had to wait for thirty minutes but the grizzly approached the bison carcass from its out of sight position in the tree line. It wrestled with the carcass a little trying to get a few good bites. Between 8:15 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. several Junction Butte wolves were in view from Boulder Pullout to the north, but this side of the Lamar River and did not interact with the grizzly and its bison carcass. Others saw five grays and two black wolves. I arrived a little late but Frank H showed me one black and three gray wolves (Frank had seen a second black wolf (all three of the gray wolves were collared). They remained on this side of the river and moved to the east. Everyone spread out trying to relocate the wolves, but they never were seen again. After 12:00 noon Charlie M spotted Junction Butte wolves on the slopes of Hellroaring best viewed from the Upper Hellroaring Pullout. One black and two grays all uncollared were seen for the next two hours not doing much. We assumed all three were pups and were temporary behind the rest of the pack. At 3:00 p.m. Kevin M found bedded wolves at Junction Lake viewed from Rick's Pullout, which is over three miles away. Lots of bird activity indicated they had a carcass of some kind. They remained bedded with once in a while one sitting up or moving around. Later Kevin M and Jeff B counted five black (two of which were collared) and three gray wolves. These too were Junction Butte wolves. I stopped at Elk Creek around 6:15 p.m. they were still bedded.

Sunday - April 23rd

31 degrees in Gardiner but only 20 degrees at Boulder Pullout this morning warming to a very nice 53 degrees. I saw a cottontail rabbit on the road going into the park this morning. I had an immature golden eagle flying up the Lamar River near the Lamar River Bridge today. No wolves for me today. At 6:15 a.m. I watched the grizzly on the bison carcass just above the Buffalo Ford sleeping next to the carcass viewed from Boulder Pullout. I returned around 7:45 a.m. and the grizzly had woken up and was now feeding on the bison carcass. After I left my friends Rob and Karyn watched the grizzly leave the carcass disappearing uphill and into the trees. Then a second grizzly, that I did not see, passed by the carcass and it disappeared going away from the carcass. The carcass is finally finished after five days. Kevin and I checked tonight, and grizzly bears were in the area. At 7:10 a.m. Kevin M had a grizzly leaving the Junction Lake area traveling west. Last night Kevin had found at least eight wolves on a probable carcass that was out of sight but a lot of bird activity. With no wolves visible this morning I assume the grizzly found the carcass and finished the carcass off. We had good viewing for fifteen minutes plus and got to show a lot of people the grizzly. We stopped by tonight and there were no animals in the area. With Junction Lake being at least three miles from the road there was no reason for the grizzly to leave the carcass during the day, unless he had finished the carcass.

Yellowstone Wolf Pup ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved

Monay - April 24th

41 degrees in Gardiner but only 34 degrees at Slough Creek this morning warming up to 40 degrees in the park. I spotted my first unita ground squirrel this morning and ten minutes later spotted my second and third unita ground squirrels. Good news for the coyotes and wolves. At 5:55 a.m. Frank H had two wolves near the Sage Den in Slough Creek. By the time I arrived they had gone out of sight. Good news is that at least one of the females of the Junction Butte wolfpack is going to den in the traditional den area. At 6:30 a.m. I found two black wolves high to the west with three large elk. The sighting was a brief one. At 7:05 a.m. Frank H and Rick M found the alpha male bedded near the eastern trees of the Slough Creek den area. Just a little later he howled but we heard no responses. Others had found the main Junction Butte group in Lamar Valley this morning. I was still in the Slough Creek area which turned out to be good since the group was traveling to the west on the south side of the road. Around 9:00 a.m. they were spotted in Crystal Drainage still traveling west. They moved west for over a mile, sometimes only three to four hundred yards from the road. There were sixteen wolves and half black and half gray. The group was in no hurry and the sighting lasted for almost forty minutes with cars constantly moving west to keep them in sight. Some of the collared wolves seen in the group were 1276F, 1382F, 1341F, and 1339M. Around noon I pulled into Boulder Pullout where others had wolves in the Buffalo Ford area. I watched two black and one gray all uncollared wolves for a couple of hours, the contention was that these were the yearlings seen in recent days on the slopes of Hellroaring. They spent some time chewing on the old bison carcass that the grizzly was on for five days. A lot of bedded time during the viewing session. A big bull bison once walked through the wolves insisting that all three move out of his way.

Tuesday - April 25th

41 degrees in Gardiner but only 34 degrees at Boulder Pullout in Little America this morning warming up to a nice 58-degree day. The road construction from Slough Creek to the Northeast Entrance (22 miles) is thinking of starting. Unfortunately for the bear and wolf watchers they closed the Lamar Canyon West Pullout including the dirt pullouts just to the east. This pullout is a favorite pullout giving the watchers a great look at Crystal Drainage and we have often seen grizzlies and wolves all the way to #9's old den far to the southwest. Plus, the view into the Slough Creek bottoms is excellent from there. The view into Slough is particularly good around the mixed conifer aspen forest which is a great place for the grizzlies to dig early in the year and the bears use it as a travel corridor going and coming from Junction Pass area. They also coned off the small pullout near the stop light in the eastern part of Lamar Canyon. This was the place where the otters have been so often seen this spring. I understand the problem that could be created with the pullout between the two one way stop lights. I had a golden eagle flying above the Slough Creek area twice today. I heard that the golden eagle researchers confirmed that the eagle nest down the Slough Creek Campground Road was not being used. I heard that golden eagles only nest every other year. I also heard that they often use different nests changing from year to year. But is nice that the pair is around. No grizzlies for me today. However, Kevin M found a grizzly high on Ski Slope clearing in Lamar Valley this afternoon. It was traveling away to the south and crossed the large snow cornice then crossed the windblown bare ground and out of sight over the skyline. I did not get to see the grizzly, however looking at the grizzly's tracks crossing the snow cornice were beautiful. Early in the morning a black wolf was seen entering the sage den at Slough Creek. At 10:00 a.m. I caught it leaving the sage den then bedded briefly then moving out of sight behind the eastern trees of the Slough Creek den area. Frank H identified the wolf as 1276F, and she still looked big and her leaving the den meant that she has not had the pups yet. She reappeared twice later from the sage den but returned back to the den. Note: it is though the 907F in end the natal den. At 1:30 p.m. a gray wolf appeared below the den area and proceeded to disappear behind the eastern trees where 1276F had disappeared too. At 2:00 p.m. Frank H caught the black alpha male near the natal den. It proceeded to go behind the eastern trees where the other two wolves were.

Yellowstone Wolf ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved Gerry Hogston

People Seen

Wolf Watchers: From Montana: Rick M, Jeremy S, Doug M, Taylor R, Dan and Laurie L, and Wendy B. From Missouri: Frank H. From Washington: David and Stepanie O. From Utah: Charlie M and Paul H. From California: Bill W, Jim and Amber, and Glenda M and Rick. Bear Watchers seen this report: From Louisiana: Bruce P. From Wyoming: Kevin M. From Idaho: Jon and Karen E. From Montana: Jeff B and Kathy M, Linda K, Jack G, Howard A, and Scott M. Others seen this report: From Montana: Evan S, Bob L, Michael S, Mike S, and Cara M. From Rhode Island: Mark L. From Virginia: Big John B. From Idaho: Scott B, Rob M and Karyn de K. From Vermont: John K.

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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