Wolves, Bears, and Babies June 5

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karenandbill
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Wolves, Bears, and Babies June 5

Post by karenandbill »

With the West entrance now open we will be going into the parks at least a couple times a week. We will only post when we see something significant as we don't want to dominate the postings. But today was one of those days.

Decided to head into Lamar fairly early in the morning hoping to see the Junction Butte pups. Got there about 8:15 but were already too late. There were a couple of wolves out but not very visible and I couldn't find them in my binocs. So we decided to head into Lamar. At the west end there were cars pulled off and people out looking north. Found a parking spot and asked what was out there. A black wolf but it had just moved behind the ridge. I started thinking, "Oh, no. Today is going to be one of those days when we just miss the good stuff." Then I told myself to follow the advice I give others and just enjoy whatever the park gives. There was a mother pronghorn who had just given birth to twin fawns and we watched them stand and nurse for the first time, so that was really neat. Then somebody said the wolf is back out. We could see a black wolf moving west in the sage. Apparently this is one of the Junction Butte yearlings. (Again, I need to apologize for the quality of the photos as our equipment is not the best)

ImageDSC_0015 by William Reinke, on Flickr

Watched it for a few minutes as it went up and over the hill. Then a second black wolf appeared. This one moved up the hill toward an elk which promptly decided to chase the wolf. May have been the mother of a calf that was killed earlier behind the ridge.

ImageDSC_0022 by William Reinke, on Flickr

The wolf began moving east so Karen and I decided to move further down in the hopes it would keep moving in that direction. However, it decided to turn back toward the west. So we decided to just keep going. Down at Hitching Post there were some people out on the ridges looking out. A grizzly sow with 2 COY's was walking along the ridge just over Soda Butte Creek.

ImageDSC_0026 by William Reinke, on Flickr

She went down to the river flats. This is an area where the creek splits into several small channels with the main creek closest to the road.
She came to the first small channel and after surveying the best place dove in with a splash to go across.

ImageDSC_0050 by William Reinke, on Flickr
ImageDSC_0051 by William Reinke, on Flickr

The first cub followed rather quickly. The second cub went back and forth before finally taking the plunge. They made it just fine. They hung out on the island for a while. Mama made her way over to main creek which was running very swiftly and quite wide. She looked it over then just moved back away from the edge. Whew! glad she didn't try to cross with those little ones. On, No! After a few more minutes she is now back at the edge eyeing the creek. "Don't try it with these tiny cubs." Whoosh! She went in, turned and called her cubs to follow which they did one after the other. Karen and I are both taking video at this point so no pictures until Mama is across. The first cub is pushed downstream a bit but makes it to the edge.

ImageDSC_0077 by William Reinke, on Flickr

The second cub is struggling. Mama runs downstream and calls it. It makes one final push and is able to get to the shore. Hurray and applause from the crowd!

ImageDSC_0078 by William Reinke, on Flickr

I thought the cubs would be exhausted but they seemed fine as Mama just meandered further away from us and in some willows. Wow! Time now for a restroom break and since there was a line, we decided to head to the Northeast Entrance picnic area and see if the moose was still around.

Just west of Round Prairie several cars off and people out. One of the Molly wolves is out along the tree line by an old carcass. We were able to get a decent look for a few minutes.

ImageDSC_0083 by William Reinke, on Flickr

On to the picnic area. At the entrance there was no moose. So we drove in and parked across from the RR. I suggested we follow the small path down through the woods and look at the creek. It's a pretty spot. On our way back to the car Karen says, "Bill, look to your right." There about 30 feet off the path is the moose laying down chewing her cud. We both had totally missed her on the way down and I would have missed her on the way back. Karen remarks, "Good thing she wasn't a bear or we'd have been in real trouble."

ImageDSC_0093 by William Reinke, on Flickr

We started back towards the west and I kiddingly told Karen that it should be perfect timing for the bears to be crossing the road. Turns out I wasn't too far off. Cars backed up both ways and at a dead stop. We parked off the road and walked up the hill on the north side of the road. We were able to get a good view of Mama and the cubs just doing their thing but getting closer to the road. At this point she laid down and let the cubs nurse. We took a picture but at that distance it just looked like a big ball of fur. But Karen was ready with the camera and after nursing she got this shot!

ImageDSC_0120 by William Reinke, on Flickr

The bears took their time moving in the willows but we could see from our vantage point they were getting closer to the road. The crowd had thinned out some as they were not as visible, so I went back, got the car and picked up Karen. The traffic moved slowly then came to a complete stop as the bears moved more in the open closer to the road. We were about 5 cars back. People were still in the road with cameras on tripods right where the bears were heading! I got out of the car and did my best ranger imitation telling the people that were in the road to move back and give them some space. A few listened but most did not with one woman dissing me pretty good. But then they all moved back or got in their cars which were still in the road and left. Shortly thereafter the bears appeared out of the willows and up to the road. Then they proceeded to cross right where the people had been.

ImageDSC_0136 by William Reinke, on Flickr
ImageDSC_0138 by William Reinke, on Flickr

They then went up the hill scattering a few photographers who were up there and out of sight.

We then headed over to hike lost lake. Saw another griz near the Specimen Ridge Trail parking spot. It was a young one digging up on the hillside. Then on to Petrified Tree for a shot hike out to Lost Lake. We debated about going over to Hayden but decided just to head home as it had been one of our best days ever!
Last edited by karenandbill on Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.



YNPjeepers
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:35 pm

Re: Wolves, Bears, and Babies June 5

Post by YNPjeepers »

karenandbill,
Love reading your reports and the photos you are posting. It's great to know that there is a lot to see in the upper loop. We are packed up and ready to leave early tomorrow morning to spend the week up there. We'll travel up through the Tetons to give it one more try to see 399 and family but then stay mostly in the upper loop area. Thanks for letting us see what you are seeing.


I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
Henry David Thoreau

karenandbill
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: Wolves, Bears, and Babies June 5

Post by karenandbill »

Great for you to be making the trip. Let us know if 399 is out. We are thinking of heading to the Tetons one day this week. The weather is supposed to be cooler but warm up near the end of the week. That might be good for seeing wildlife. Good luck!

--Bill



Nikon_nerd
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:06 pm

Re: Wolves, Bears, and Babies June 5

Post by Nikon_nerd »

Bill and Karen,

Great trip report ! Wow you guys saw so many animals! Must have been a great experience. Thanks for the report and the photos!



karenandbill
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: Wolves, Bears, and Babies June 5

Post by karenandbill »

Nikon_nerd wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:24 pm
Bill and Karen,

Great trip report ! Wow you guys saw so many animals! Must have been a great experience. Thanks for the report and the photos!
We have had more in terms of quantity before. But I can't think of better quality with the wolves and bears in one day. Thanks, Jeff.



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