Portions of Mount Jumbo open Friday; violators and unleashed dog owners face fines

Mount Jumbo’s South Zone will reopen to public use this Friday, bringing the area’s annual winter wildlife closure to a close.

At least 50 elk remain in Jumbo’s South Zone and trail users and their pets must stay on trails and at least 100 yards from the herd while hiking. Dogs must be leashed in the South Zone for the next few weeks to ensure they don’t chase wildlife.

Allowing a dog to chase or harass hoofed game animals is against Montana law and can result in a fine of up to $1,000.

During the spring green-up, elk follow the emerging vegetation northward as the snowpack recedes. This is a critical time for the animals to acquire food and to avoid spending calories running from dogs and other predators. This is especially important for pregnant female elk who will deliver this spring’s calves.

As the snowpack recedes, the herd will move farther north, eventually settling into its traditional summer range in the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Marshall Canyon. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will continue to track the movements of the Jumbo herd to assess population size and health.

The South Zone includes all points south of the Saddle Road, which bisects Mount Jumbo’s conservation lands and can be reached at the north end of Lincoln Hills Drive.

Jumbo’s North Zone (all points north of the Saddle Road) will remain closed until May 1. The “L” trail and the US West easement road remain open all year. Hikers must stay on the designated trails only, as off-trail travel is prohibited.

For closure maps and more information, visit www.missoulaparks.org.

Those who violate the wildlife winter closure may be cited for trespassing and may incur fines and penalties. Those who observe abuses are asked to call 911. Vehicle license plates or other identifying characteristics will help law enforcement identify trespassers.