All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

   We woke up to about an inch of snow at 5:45 a.m. It was still snowing in Lamar Valley and Little America. Visibility was poor when we parked right in front of the bison carcass. As we drove up, we saw a grizzly moving toward the carcass from the east and a grizzly already on it with some ravens. There was little interaction between the two bears. The second grizzly did not stay long, perhaps not wanting a conflict. The original grizzly, which may have been the bear who killed the bison, stayed for a short while, maybe for 15 minutes or less, and then walked off, following the same path as the second bear. Then there was nothing but ravens. A few coyotes spotted the carcass, but walked past. Suddenly, we were distracted by the appearance of a charcoal wolf behind us. He seemed to want to come down to the carcass, but was intimidated by the line of cars, a sad fact of wildlife viewing. While we were watching him, four coyotes were feeding on the carcass. One coyote kept breaking away, as if looking for something, or keeping watch, but returning to the carcass. The scene was spoiled by Park biologists walking down to the carcass to examine it and take samples. The coyotes scattered and one bison moved closer, threateningly. While this was happening, another wolf appeared behind us. The two wolves traveled west together, playing in the snow and chasing elk, a stream of photographers following along the road. We decided to walk up to Tower to see black bears before the road opens. We saw one adult in the second meadow on the way up and down, and a second adult on the way down. We guessed that neither of these bears was the adult we saw on Sunday because the cub was not around. Later we saw the black bear and cinnamon bear near Petrified Tree again. They are very affectionate and playful with each other. The cinnamon bear was trying to nap and the black bear would amble up and rub heads with it or paw at it. We checked the bison carcass again, about 5:30 p.m., there was not much on it, and most people were gone. We continued down to the confluence where we saw a total of four grizzlies, one black bear and 302M. It was bitterly cold watching from a hill and an icy wind was blowing. Two grizzlies were courting; one of which was "Thumper." Another grizzly guarded a carcass by the creek. When the bears were fighting over the carcass, 302M would slip in and grab some dinner, a tactic he is apparently employs often. Nearby a fourth grizzly and a black bear got into a disagreement, resulting in the black bear chasing the grizzly away! There were no coyotes visible when we stopped near the den site this evening, but down the road we saw two adult coyotes hunting in the meadows. By the time we reached the motel, it was still cold and snowing.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2005