Mount Jumbo's south zone normally opens on March 15, but due to a lingering elk herd, city officials have closed the area to all humans for the time being.

Conservation Lands Manager Morgan Valiant explains.

"We want to give the area time for snow melt and green-up in higher elevations," Valiant began. "Right now, we've got about three quarters of the elk herd that usually winters on Mt. Jumbo's south zone, so to reduce conflicts between them and users and to help meet our management goals and to keep that herd from becoming acclimated to humans, we are extending the closure for another week."

Valiant estimates the size of the elk herd on Mt. Jumbo.

"Two days ago, I looked up there and counted about 50, and that's just what was in view," he said. "There might have been more up on the ridge. The last count of that herd we had a few years ago was around 90 in total."

Valiant said after leaving Mt. Jumbo, the herd splits up and goes into the Rattlesnake and the Mid Tower Gulch area. He said there are several natural predators in the area such as mountain lions, resident black bears, as well as multiple sightings of wolves in the Marshall Canyon drainage.

Anyone caught violating the closure will be subject to a misdemeanor trespassing charge.

The south zone is expected to reopen by April 7.