MISSOULA, Mont. - The following is a press release from the City of Missoula:
City officials, in consultation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists, have extended the Mount Jumbo winter elk closure in the south zone through Sunday, April 13. The "L" trail and the US West easement road will remain open. Hikers must stay on the designated trails only—off-trail travel is prohibited. Dogs must be leashed on the "L" trail and US West road during the winter closure. Mount Jumbo's North Zone remains closed until May 1. The south zone includes all points south of the Saddle Road, which is located at the north end of Lincoln Hills Drive.
With heavy snowpack in the higher and mid-elevations, the elk on Mount Jumbo have extended their winter stay in the South Zone, according to wildlife biologist Vickie Edwards of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP.) Edwards says late season snowfall has delayed the north zone's spring green-up, so the elk have remained at the south end of the mountain—where spring vegetation provides a reliable food source. The herd needs the habitat and undisturbed security of the South Zone to conserve and replenish their energy supply during the extended winter season, she added. The winter closure also helps keep the "wild" in wildlife. As elk become more habituated to people, they more likely they are to lose the characteristics that make them part of the natural environment, according to Montana FWP.
Violations of the Mount Jumbo winter closure are punishable by fine. Please call 911 to report closure violations. Vehicle license plates or other identifying characteristics will help law enforcement issue citations to those who violate the closure.
The Mount Jumbo winter closure is mandated by the Mount Jumbo Management Plan and the City Conservation Lands Management plan, both of which were adopted by the City Council after extensive public processes. The City conducts an inter-agency review with Montana FWP and others when considering adaptations to the regular closure dates. Winter elk closures may be extended based on weather conditions and movements of the herd.