Our public lands are the historic and current year-round home of countless species of animals that have had their domain consistently encroached upon by humans and human uses. When mountain biking here wildlife must be considered and respected.
Respecting wildlife easy. First, when you encounter wildlife, slow down or stop. Try not to scare or startle animals and definitely don’t chase or “run” them. Give them the time they need to move on and be off of the trail.
Also important is to always understand where and when you are planning to ride and knowing if there are any SEASONAL CLOSURES or RESTRICTIONS in place for wildlife. These seasonal closures are common in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area and important to the various species they are designed to protect. The threatened Gunnison Sage-grouse is our best example of a species that needs you to honor these seasonal closures and restrictions.
This ground-dwelling bird is native to this valley and its population, once prevalent over a much larger range, now is nearly exclusively confined to the sagebrush country that surrounds the city of Gunnison. The most critical life-stage of Gunnison Sage-grouse is the spring mating period, also known as lekking. You can expect to find some of our popular trails closed between March 15th and May 15th every spring. Additionally, closures in some areas protect Gunnison Sage-grouse brood rearing and nesting. These closures may extend to June 15th and beyond on certain trails and in certain areas.
Gunnison Trails works hard with land managers and wildlife agencies to accurately and effectively sign the trails that encroach upon this vital habitat. Here’s what you can do to help preserve these precious species while at the same time preserving our privilege to continue to enjoy riding in these amazing, wild areas (and it’s easy!): PLEASE, NEVER RIDE A TRAIL THAT IS CLOSED FOR SEASONAL PROTECTION OF WILDLIFE! Regardless of where you are from, how long you have lived here or how far you traveled to get here, closed mean closed. It’s pretty simple stuff, really.
In addition to Gunnison Sage-grouse, there are also seasonal closures to protect big game (deer and elk), lynx, big horn sheep and others. Please always be alert for signage and read and honor all messages encountered while out on the trail.