McDonald Peak to close for Grizzly Bears

By Beacon Staff

McDonald Peak and the surrounding areas in the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness area will be closed to recreational activities July 15 through October 1. This area is known as the Grizzly Bear Management Zone and is closed annually to avoid human disturbance to grizzly bear activity, according to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The closure extends from Post Creek South to the divide between Ashley and Mission Creeks from the Western edge of the Tribal Wilderness to the Mission Divide. Included in the closed areas are Ashley, Duncan, Ice Flow, Lake of the Clouds, Cliff, Disappointment, and First Lakes. Trails within the closed area will be patrolled by Tribal Fish and Game officers.

There are a number of alternative camping areas and peaks in the Mission Mountains for hikers in both the Forest Service Wilderness and the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness. The closure does not include McDonald Lake, Summit Lake or Eagle Pass. The 10,000-acre closure is only 10 percent of the Mission Range and is essentially without trails.

More information on the closure from Dale Becker and Germaine White:

Grizzly bears have historically gathered in this area to feed on army cutworm moths that concentrate in the areas during the months of July, August, and September. This closure will assure human safety and allow grizzly bears to use this important area during the summer.

The closure allows many bears to remain at high elevations longer each year and gain additional weight, which may result in fewer human confrontations when the grizzly bears go to lower elevation sites in the fall.

Becker and White also note that caution should be exercised when visiting any areas outside the closure. For more information, contact them at 406-883-2888.