SUMMER VISIT 2014: PART TWO


DAY FIVE – Tuesday, June 17

A light rain is falling as I head out today.

I go straight to Trash Can and set up on the little hill opposite the pullout.

At first light there are two grizzlies on the bison carcass, Scarface and a larger bear. Trash Can and Picnic pullouts are all full!

Bill H is watching from Mid-point and radios that he has 3 wolves to the south heading east. In about one minute I find them, too. It’s 911M, the Black Female and the Un-collared gray yearling. They come straight to the carcass.

This is a great sighting with lots of interaction and behavior. I see a good bit of affectionate play between 911 and the female. The un-collared gray basically stays out of the way, waiting his turn. Of the three of them, the female is relentless about getting meat while the bears aren’t looking. She cleverly watches the big bear who controls the carcass, waiting for her moment, then lunges in and grabs a piece, carrying it a couple of yards away to eat in peace.

She consistently puts herself at risk, and succeeds often, swerving out of reach as the bear lunges and swipes.

After one of her successes, I see 911 cozy up to her, wagging his tail and acting affectionate, but all he really wants is the meat! Wow, this is my first observation of what I’d call “underhanded” behavior in the wild. I don’t fault him for wanting the meat, or even for trying to take it from her – but to try to distract her with fake affection in order to get it rubs me the wrong way.

She is able to snag a chunk of meat 8 times. Three of those times 911 tries to steal her meat by being affectionate. Twice it works and she lets him have it; but once she really snaps at him and he backs off.

This does not endear 911 to me but Jeremy defends him. Thinks he’s a “cool wolf”. I think Jeremy is just pushing my buttons. I never see 911 take the risks that she does to get any meat. The un-collared gray does it a few times, but neither of them is as bold or successful as she is.

Eventually, both 911 and the female move off and head east, towards Chalcedony fan. The yearling lingers a while but soon we see him leave, scent trailing the other two.

I head to Slough to call Jackie & Phil. We decide to take our chances with the weather. We will meet at Tower at 10AM.

I go back to Mid-Point in time to see 889 on the north side of the road. She came in to feed on the carcass shortly after I left. She fed about an hour, then moved off to the west. She just crossed the road a minute or so ago.

Hmm, now I am wondering (like everyone else) whether 755 is somewhere on the north side with her. Rick got a weak signal from his collar, which doesn’t tell us much.

I thought the Black Female would stick with 755, but she seems quite enamored of 911 at the moment. I like her, despite her flip-flopping. Her tough as nails behavior with bears at the carcass and her ability to attract two different males tells me she is going to be an alpha someday.

I meet Jackie & Phil and we pack up for our hike. But then we’re crushed to find we have chosen a route that is closed for bear management – the trail to the Mary Marr cabin south of Blacktail Ponds is still off limits this early in the season.

So we decide to head north instead on the Blacktail Creek trail. It’s always an interesting hike.

We only go about 2 miles and then back again because Jackie needs to get back to her Ginger Snaps. It’s very nice country, and enough variety for my idea of a nice day hike. We talk about my legal situation with one of my clients at work, and both of them are very sympathetic and helpful.

We meet two groups of backpackers and then two young NPS employees who are fixing water sampling fixtures that have been destroyed by bison. They show us how bison eat willows – destroy willows is more like it!!!!

The fixtures are made of PVC piping, all along Blacktail Creek. The weight of a bison just crushes it!

We reach a shaded campsite area and stop to have lunch. We are visited by a marmot, several ground squirrels, a hawk and a very pretty flicker. We see lots of wildflowers, including my favorite: wild iris. We also see lupine, rabbit brush, prairie smoke, sticky geranium and a pale salmon paintbrush.

As we get back the wind has kicked up and we are again threatened with rain. I offer to show them wolves but Jackie wants to get back to her sweet little doggie. So we hug goodbye with promises of more outings in the future.

It’s about 3PM and I park at Frog Rock to take a nap. The gentle tapping of rain on the roof puts me right out. I wake up two and a half hours later, quite refreshed.

It’s 5:45; 50 degrees. I head east and see a black bear at Lower Hellroaring. I then head up the Tower Road to re-set my phone. I leave a message for Chloe & Becky offering to drive them to the event tomorrow but I learn their car is already fixed and all is well.

On my way back down I stop for another black bear at Rainy Lake, but not the one with cubs. Then I have a third black bear just east of Slough before Lamar Canyon.

I continue east and stop at the Institute. Rick is looking for 755. I try to help but he remains elusive.

Picnic pullout is still jammed but I find room at Trash Can. I see no wolves on the carcass, but there is a new bear and one coyote.

It’s still cloudy and threatening rain. I though Laurie would be here but she already went in.

I head home to Silver Gate. At Moose Meadow I catch sight of a small herd of elk. They are having some sort of family dispute, playing and sparring below the cut bank.

And there are mulies near the gate, as usual.

Today I saw: 3 black bears, 3 grizzlies (including Scarface), bison, coyotes, mule deer, elk, a flicker, a hawk, a marmot, ground squirrels, 4 wolves (including 911M, Black Female, Un-collared Gray Male and 889F) and the spirit of Allison.



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