MISSOULA — A section of Mount Jumbo in Missoula will remain off-limits for a little bit longer.
In consultation with wildlife biologists at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Parks and Recreation have extended the Mount Jumbo South Zone winter wildlife closure to March 22.
The annual closure protects the 75 to 90 elk and other animals that inhabit Jumbo’s lower elevations to feed and regain their strength after a long winter.
FWP Wildlife Biologist Liz Bradley says early spring is a critical time for elk because they are coming out of the winter in the poorest physical condition they will 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 explained.
“Most years, we see the hillsides starting to green up by mid-to-late March, but that hasn’t happened this year,” Bradley added.
Mount Jumbo's elk herd has remained in the South Zone this month due to excessive snowpack at Jumbo's higher elevations.
Most of Mount Jumbo is closed annually on December 1 to protect wintering wildlife. The “L” Trail and US West Road remain open all year.
Mount Jumbo’s North Zone, which includes all points north of the Saddle Road, will remain closed until May 1 or later, depending on weather conditions.
The South Zone, which includes all points south of Jumbo's Saddle Road, will open on Monday, March 22.