DAY FOUR - Monday, June 16


I leave at 4:40 today. It’s 41 with some cloud cover. There are mulies at the side of the road and a huge elk decides to cross right in front of me just west of Moose Meadow. I slam on the brakes and stop in time but everything goes flying.

There is a bit of fog in Round Prairie – it looks quite pretty.

Pronghorn cross the road at Confluence. I’ve seen no one scoping anywhere so I figure they are all at Picnic and keeping quiet. But only one car is here. Still nothing on this dead bison. I hear that Rick had a weak signal for 911M. He says he is getting 926F as expected, in the den area.

Hmmm, ok. I head further west and find people at Fisherman’s. There are three grizzlies on the carcass; a large black one and two smaller grizzly-colored ones. I think the big black one is the courting griz that Betsy and I saw earlier in June.

The black one dominates the other two, charging at them and making them run.

I also see elk, sandhills, bison, pronghorn and geese.

Laurie gets a call from someone at S curves. They have wolves in sight. I head there.

Today there is a really beautiful fog through Little America which continues in spots throughout the Blacktail, particularly at lower Hellroaring. There is a sensuous mist rising from Phantom Lake.

It was Marlene who found the Prospect pups early this morning. She and Jeremy and Rick then moved to “the spot”. Rick got no signals, but of course pups don’t have collars! Laurie & I arrive about 6:30 and we set up. I get lucky today – I am the first to find a wolf! It is an adult and moments later, the pups come out.

We have 3 adults; 2 blacks and a gray, and all three pups. The black pup is the most bold while the two grays are scairdy-cats. We watch the black stalk a pair of sandhill cranes. So cute! When they move he gives chase for a little bit but then he stops.

A chorus of coyotes arises, yipping and howling, which spooks one gray pup, making him run back to the forest. We laugh but it’s very cute.

An adult comes in from the west and the little pups come rushing, wagging their tiny tails, begging for food. They get a regurgitation and when they finish eating, they start romping and playing with each other. Sometimes the adults join in and sometimes they bed as if they are worn out.

The pups bed for a while, then get up for more play. It is a beautiful day and a very nice sighting.

I find a spot where a cluster of wild iris is growing. I love wild iris; they are one of my all time favorite flowers.

While we are out here seeing pups, folks back in Lamar are finally rewarded with a wolf sighting at the Picnic bison. The Junction Butte black female and 911M are together, trying to get to the bison carcass but several attentive bison "guards" are keeping them away. They have not yet finished the “funeral” procession that started yesterday. Finally the bison move off and both wolves have a nice long feed.

Apparently, 755 is no longer in the area. Hmm, I hope he and 911M didn’t get into a fight over the black female in any dangerous way.

After a good hour's viewing, our Prospect Pack sighting is over. So Laurie and I head back west in hopes of seeing the action at Picnic.

When I top Hubbard Hill, I can see all the cars further east, so I pull over right here. When we set up, we find a only a coyote on the carcass. Marlene and I radio Colleen who replies that a wolf had been feeding earlier but has now moved west.

Laurie stopped in Little America to talk with Rick and ends up finding 890M (the Junction Butte alpha male). I get back in my car and head towards Laurie. I'm too late to see 890 but then she finds 870F (Junction Butte alpha female). It has started raining and the wind has picked up. I continue scoping from Boulder even though I've lost 870. It's fairly unpleasant but I don't mind!

We give up and go to Trash Can Hill. We are rewarded with a view of an un-collared gray wolf on the bison carcass. Laurie thinks it is the Junction Butte male yearling, who often gtravels about on his own. Then I realize there is also a bear on the carcass. It's a grizzly. Scarface, in fact.

While we are enjoying this sighting, I notice movement to the east. There! A collared black wolf is approaching the carcass from the western end of RV – this wolf stops, sees or smells something it doesn’t like. It turns quickly and runs pretty fast to the east along the river. It’s 926F!

There are now three wolves plus Scarface in the carcass area. The Junction black female and 911M come down from where they were bedded in the treeline. Just as they reach the carcass, we notice some some people who have walked out from the road to the river. Guess what happens next? Yep, the wolves turn around and head back up the big fan.

The yearling spooked to the west, but he eventually comes back to the carcass. When Scarface isn't looking, he manages to grab two bites and then scent-trails the other two wolves uphill.

Meanwhile, Laurie and Kathie left Trash Can to keep track of 926F. They find her from Footbridge and watch her a while. The rain returns quite heavily so I go back to my car and drive east. I miss 926F at Footbridge so I continue east, meaning to stop at Soda Butte East. Before I get there I see her to the south, in the flats just east of the cone. I set up at the Cone lot and watch her.

926F is not afraid of people or roads. She has grown up around them and knows how to deal with both. I watch her come to the river. She crosses and lopes across the flats, completely confident. She crosses the road with out missing a beat and heads back to her pups.

Now I return to Silver Gate for a short nap.

I head back out at 5:30 to join Laurie & Kathie for dinner at Roosevelt. Laurie's friend Bonnie from the Institute is moving back east and this is her last night here.

I see Kathie pulled over at the Institute so I join her. She shows me 889F bedded on a hill to the north. 889 and 755 have been together on and off for a few months but neither of us see him up there. I feel bad for her. She has a useless front leg.

Then on we go to Roosevelt and have a great time.

One our way back we stop at Picnic to check out the carcass. Scarface is asleep on it! We notice that even while asleep he is enough of a threat to keep the birds away!

The rain returns so we don't stay long. By the time we reach Silver Gate the rain has turned to snow.

Today I saw: 4 grizzly bears (including Scarface), bison, coyotes, sandhill cranes, mule deer, a bald eagle, elk, pronghorn, 10 wolves: 6 from the Prospect Peak Pack (3 adults & 3 pups) plus 911M, the JB black female, the un-collared gray yearling and 889F) and the spirit of Allison.

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