June-July, 2015: I saw quite a few grizzly bears (never saw a black bear) during my time in Yellowstone National Park, but usually they were pretty far away so I had to extend my camera zoom as far as possible.
Like this grizzly coming down the happy hill of yellow flowers.
But by far the most interesting bear encounter I had was when I saw a mama bear and her cubs feasting on a bison kill. This is what’s great about RVing Facebook friends: Because my friend, Jan, introduced me to her friend, Rand, who was working in Yellowstone – who told me about a bison who had been killed and that a mama bear and cubs were feasting on it – and that it could be seen from the road and where to find it – I ended up having a pretty good view of it.
Of course, there were lots of other people there since the kill happened the day before and apparently the word got out. I had to park quite a ways away, but I made my way to the viewing spot which was on a little bluff.
When I first got there, the bears were nowhere close, but I could see them way across the field on a hilltop. It took about 2 hours for them to make their way down to the bison. But as usual, talking with other people, most of whom were RVers, was a big part of the fun. Like when the babies would both be visible at the same time, the crowd would oooh and aaah.
The only way I could see them at this point was with binoculars, but it was fun to watch them running in the fields and crossing the river. Mama was obviously playing with the cubs sometimes and it was just so freakin’ cute! It looks like the cubs are playing piggyback here.
Rand had told me that wolves had actually made the kill, but that the mama bear drove them off and Rand watched her cover most of the body with grass immediately to try to discourage other predators from finding her prize. The bison horn can be seen on the bottom right.
I wondered why the wolves never came back in the night to reclaim their kill since the mama seemed to have been gone all night, but people standing around said the mama would have been well aware if another animal tried to get to her prize and would have been right on them.
Even though we were pretty far away, we could still sure smell that bison when the wind blew toward us. Since I heard the kill was around 10 the previous morning, he was pretty ripe by today. Disgusting putrid smell so we all wondered why some other predator hadn’t gotten to it since mama and cubs were pretty far away at first and who knows where they were last night. Whatever happened to the wolves, mama sure claimed it for herself and her cubs today!
I still had to zoom as far as I could, then crop, but when I looked through the binoculars to watch what they were doing, sometimes it was pretty gross when she pulled off some bloody pieces. It’s a whole different thing seeing this kind of thing in person rather than on National Geographic.
Looks like she is letting out a celebratory yell! Mama & babies ate good today!
I admit a moment of crazy when I was tempted to throw the woman who kept getting in front of my camera down the hill to see if the bears wanted her for dessert.
More animal encounters: