MISSOULA - The annual winter closure of the south zone of Mount Jumbo in Missoula is being extended with Missoula Parks & Recreation noting the decision was made after consulting with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) wildlife biologists.
Parks staff will post a projected opening date on March 18 at https://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/157/Parks-Recreation. The closure, which typically ends March 15, protects 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 said. "Female elk and deer are doubly stressed as they try to push through these tough conditions carrying the young they will deliver in late May and June."
Conservation land managers say the South Zone will reopen when most of the herd has moved to higher elevations in the Jumbo's North Zone.
Much of Mount Jumbo is closed annually on December 1 to protect wintering wildlife however, the "L" Trail and US West Trail remain open all year and dogs must be leashed to protect wildlife.
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 and elk presence. The South Zone includes all points south of the Saddle Road.
Visit www.missoulaparks.org for real-time updates on the Jumbo wildlife closure and maps of closure areas.