It’s time to give deer and elk their winter break |

It’s time to give deer and elk their winter break

Open space closures are in effect through April 15

An elk herd finds shelter at Eagle Ranch. The town's open space winter closures are now in effect through April 15.
Daily file photo

EAGLE — Local wildlife have hunkered down to weather the tough winter months, so they really don’t need humans bothering them.

In fact, human disturbance can be a life-or-death issue.

“The winter closures are primarily to keep human interaction with deer and elk to a minimum at a time when the animals really can’t afford to burn calories,” said Craig Wescoatt, wildlife manager for Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “In the wintertime, all the animals want to do is find a place where they can bed down and move as little as possible, and when humans are around, it forces them to stand up and move away. Every time we make them do that, they are using energy they really can’t spare.”

Wescoatt noted that the issue is even more critical for female deer and elk, affecting their ability to carry and give birth to healthy offspring.

Eagle’s winter closures aren’t a new idea. They have been in force for several years, Wescoatt continued.

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“They have had some positive impact,” he said. “I think people are getting used to them and there is more compliance.”

According to Eagle open space coordinator John Staight, violation of the town’s seasonal closures is a Class B municipal violation. That means a required appearance at Eagle Municipal Court and a maximum fine of $500.

Affected trails

The following town of Eagle Open Space trails are closed until April 15:

  • Horton Street Trailhead (School House Rock trail)
  • Abrams Ridge Trail 
  • Hernage Gulch
  • LOV Connection Trail 
  • Arroyo Trailhead (includes: Third Gulch, Bailey’s, Second Gulch, Mayer Gulch, Turniphead)
  • Third Loop of Haymaker (including Extra Credit) 
  • Pool & Ice Descent
  • Dirt Surfer 
  • Love Child

Beginning Jan. 16 and continuing through April 15, Hardscrabble Mountain will be closed to vehicles and bicycles. Prior to Jan. 16, access to Hardscrabble is only permitted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management property from Gypsum via the Spring Creek Road gate or via Hardscrabble Road off of Brush Creek Road until the gate is closed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Trails in the Eagle area that remain open year-round are:

  • Boneyard
  • Redneck Ridge
  • Haymaker Trail (loops 1 and 2)
  • Town of Eagle and Eagle Ranch paved recreation paths

Additionally, trails along the Eagle Ranch Golf Course are open, but users are advised to obey signs posted by the Eagle Ranch Homeowners Association and golf course personnel.

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