Last week’s wolf and bear safari was an extremely successful weekend of wildlife watching throughout Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We were able to find many grizzly bears, black bears and a solitary gray wolf. Although these predators were the focus of this excursion, we also had great sightings of bighorn sheep, moose, river otters and many other birds and mammals.
The last few safaris have been absolutely phenomenal with excellent sightings and interesting behaviors observed. This black wolf was seen in Grand Teton National Park along with a gray-colored wolf nearby and was one of many great animals seen.
Other sightings included moose browsing on cottonwood trees, a young golden eagle attacking bighorn sheep, mountain goats navigating steep cliffs, and a porcupine perched in a tree.
This month’s multi-day safaris have been excellent in terms of cooperative weather and cooperative wildlife. Our primary objective on these safaris is to see predators and we were able to watch several species of predators on each of these including gray wolves, grizzly bears, eagles, coyotes, weasels and black bears.
During one evening, we witnessed a pack of gray wolves and a grizzly bear chasing one another as they all worked to establish dominance over the remnants of a kill. This sow grizzly bear and two cubs were seen in Hayden Valley and eventually swam across the Yellowstone River.
It is definitely more correct to refer to young bison as calves, but they give such an impression of little, red dogs that they are sometimes referred to as puppies. Newborn bison have been a highlight of safaris lately along with excellent sightings of many other birds and mammals. Our recent Wolf and Bear Safari was amazing and, as always, I was impressed with our catalog of sightings by the end of the trip.
Highlights of the safari included: several wolves including newborn puppies, two sow grizzlies with a total of five cubs, coyotes carrying away carrion, enormous bull elk in velvet, a peregrine falcon on its cliffy nest, a great-horned owl nest with chicks and a bighorn sheep ram with a full-curled set of horns.
The surprising theme of this excursion turned out to be Wildlife Swimming Across Rivers with sightings of a wolf swimming across the Lamar River and both coyote and grizzly swimming across the Yellowstone River. This image shows a coyote braving the cold waters of the Yellowstone River on Saturday.
We spent over an hour watching this sow black bear and her two cubs enthusiastically forage for berries. The falling snow added a nice backdrop to all of the wildlife and the wintery landscape seemed to encourage migrations and increased activity in many of the animals.
Thanks to an abundance of winter snow this year, we are currently enjoying wonderful spring wildflowers such as balsamroot, spring beauty, arnica, yellow violet, larkspur, yellowbell and Oregon grape.
Bird sightings included bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, osprey, pelicans, mergansers, bluebirds, cranes, swans and warblers. We certainly couldn’t ignore mammal sightings such as marmots, pronghorn, moose, elk, deer and bison with young calves.
Despite our botanical interests the highlight of today’s trip was this young grizzly bear, which graced us with its presence for 15 minutes as it walked nearby and lifted boulders looking for insects. Both grizzly bears and black bears consider Grand Teton National Park their home, but it is always a meaningful encounter to see them in the wild.
Once again, our wolf and bear safari was a successful excursion with extraordinary wildlife sightings. We were able to observe three black wolves (part of the Druid Pack) in northern Yellowstone testing bison and interacting with one another.
We saw both grizzly bears as well as black bears during this multi-day expedition but other highlights included the animals that we were able to view and photograph in the above collage. We were able to witness a great-horned owl nest with chicks, a coyote ferociously eating a ground squirrel and a red fox hunting rodents (left to right).