MISSOULA – City officials have extended the winter wildlife closure on Mount Jumbo’s South Zone to early April, due to greater than normal snowpack on the mountain.
The closure protects the 75 to 90 elk and other animals, which have taken up residence on Jumbo’s lower elevations to feed and regain their strength after a long winter.
The South Zone includes all points south of Jumbo’s Saddle Road. Jumbo’s North Zone will remain closed until May 1 or later, depending on weather conditions.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Biologist Liz Bradley, early spring is a critical time for elk because they are coming out of the winter in the poorest physical condition they’ll be in all year.
“For elk and deer, the spring green-up of vegetation can’t come soon enough—so they can start replenishing the physical reserves they lost over the winter,” Bradley said.
“Most years we see the hillsides starting to green up by mid-to-late March, but with the heavy snows we received late this winter we still have a ways to go,” she continued.
“The female elk and deer are doubly stressed as they try to push through these tough conditions carrying young they will give birth to in late May and June,” Bradley continued/
Most of Mount Jumbo has been closed since Dec. 1 to protect wintering wildlife. The “L” Trail and US West Road, which have been closed for the last several weeks due to avalanche danger, are now open.
Visitors are required to stay on the “L” and US West trails and leash their pets to protect wildlife. Call (406) 721-PARK for more information.