Best of Festival – Screening Report

We just received this beautiful recap and thank you from the Spring Into Yellowstone Birding and Wildlife Festival who screened some of our Best of Festival films. Want to host your own Best of Festival screenings in your hometown? Click here for more info.

Spring Into Yellowstone Field Report
June 3, 2013

First glimpses of dawn are barely recognizable at 4:45 AM on a Thursday morning in mid-May. Accompanied by a chilling bite of moisture in the air, this shroud of early morning darkness, however, does not scare away those who have traveled from far and wide to attend a guided trip in Wyoming’s grizzly bear country.  As more than two dozen registrants quietly fill the lobby of Cody, Wyoming’s Holiday Inn, coffee cups are passed around, the volume of conversation picks up and a palpable excitement builds.

Two biologists from the National Forest Service double-check their gear and brief the group on the day’s itinerary. Fueling the group’s anticipation, one biologist shares a couple of stories that colorfully illustrate recently observed grizzly bear activity on the Shoshone National Forest. With one of the highest densities of grizzly bears in the lower forty-eight states, opportunity for bear sightings abound in this part of northwest Wyoming – an area that many refer to as the Absaroka-Beartooth Front. Here lies a wildlife and wildlands mecca. It also happens to be the quiet eastern neighbor to the more heavily visited and internationally celebrated, Yellowstone National Park.

With binoculars dangling from necks, spotting scopes fastened to tripods, and cameras in hand, participants pile into two vans around 5:00 AM to mark the commencement of the extensive Spring Into Yellowstone: Birding and Wildlife Festival field calendar, scheduled from May 15-19th. “Grizzly Bears of the Shoshone” is just one of more than a score of professionally-led field trips on offer throughout the five-day festival. By lunchtime this group will have spent hours observing a grizzly sow with two yearling cubs, along with moose, bighorn sheep, elk, bison, mule deer, and white-tailed deer along the North Fork of the Shoshone River – all outside of Yellowstone National Park. Departing shortly thereafter, other trips covered ground in the Bighorn Basin, the Greybull River watershed, and Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley. Topics and sightings for the day included golden eagle behavior, elk and bighorn sheep winter range, wild horse management, migratory songbirds and waterfowl of the region.

This year’s inaugural Spring Into Yellowstone: Birding and Wildlife Festival attracted 143 registrants from 14 states and three countries. The five day festival collectively crossed over a thousand miles of ecologically diverse wildlife and bird habitat, from arid badlands and sage brush steppes of the Bighorn Basin, to sweeping mid-elevation grasslands and montane forests of the Shoshone National Forest, and into Yellowstone National Park’s lush Hayden and Lamar River Valleys. Evening programs included a raptor presentation by an internationally renowned ornithologist, two evenings of documentary films featuring the best of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, a Freshwaters Illustrated recent film release, an art gallery reception, and a catered dinner at the historic Mooncrest Ranch with keynote speaker Dan Tyers – a grizzly bear management coordinator representing the U.S. Forest Service across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Buffalo Bill Center for the West, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Spring Into Yellowstone Birding and Wildlife Festival was a success that we all look forward to repeating in 2014.

Thank you to the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival for providing the opportunity for registrants to view a spectacular array of cinematography at the Spring Into Yellowstone two-night film festival. Your collection of inspiring films offered invaluable content on the topics of wildlife and conservation. Festival registrants happily took the opportunity to relax and engage in these topics after a long day in the field. Thank you for working with us this year.

– Charles Wolf Drimal

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