MONTROSE, Colo. – Seasonal closures at two State Wildlife Areas in Montrose and Ouray counties provide more than 11,000 acres of critical wintering habitat and refuge for big-game animals. Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks the public to respect these closures beginning Jan. 1 to give wildlife the best chance to survive the tough winter months.
The Cimarron State Wildlife Area, located east of Montrose, is closed from Jan. 1 through June 30. The Billy Creek SWA, located south of Montrose, is closed from Jan. 1 through April 30, except along the Uncompahgre River corridor from U.S. Highway 550 as posted.
“State Wildlife Areas are acquired by CPW for the specific purpose of providing and protecting wildlife habitat,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Rachel Sralla. “This is a critical part of our agency mission, and it’s our local priority. As part of this obligation, human activity is restricted at certain times of the year.”
As the human footprint continues to grow through the impacts of development and increased recreation, there are fewer areas for wildlife to seek refuge during the harsh winter months when forage is less abundant and lacking in nutritional value.
Big-game animals come down from the high country as temperatures turn colder, snow piles up and they seek easier living conditions. Human activity in these areas during the winter months could cause animals to unnecessarily expend calories, hurting their chances of survival and producing healthy offspring in the spring season.
That makes seasonal closures imperative for sustaining healthy wildlife populations.
“We know people like to hike and walk their dogs, but please do not enter closed areas during the winter,” Sralla said. “It has been incredibly well-researched that disturbing big game during the winter has an adverse effect. We need to accept that our actions do add up and it’s the cumulative actions that take a toll on wildlife.”
All closures are clearly marked, yet CPW issues citations every year to people in violation. CPW officers will take the time to explain the reasons for the closures, but enforcement action will be taken if necessary. Those in violation can be ticketed for themselves as well as their dogs.
“CPW takes these closures seriously so the wildlife resources we all hold in high regard will be perpetuated into the future,” Sralla said. “We live in an area with plenty of BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands that are open year-round. Please, respect our vulnerable wildlife and explore other areas during the winter.”
The Bureau of Land Management also values wildlife on its lands around the Montrose area. For more information on the BLM’s seasonal closures in parts of the Dry Creek Restoration Area, Ridgway Trails Recreation Area, Gunnison Gorge National Recreation Area, Jumbo Mountain Special Recreation Area, Burn Canyon Area and the Dominguez Escalante National Conservation area, go to go.usa.gov/xepSb.