The City of Missoula is working to protect elk habitats on Mount Jumbo during the later months, and it is asking community members of all ages for help.
The Missoula International School is next to Mount Jumbo, and it is teaming up with the city's parks and recreation department to keep an eye on elk. The school's youngest students will use binoculars to watch for elk through a window. Older students will head out to the play yard to track elk through a scope.
The students will count the elk, note the gender, track weather conditions and send a monthly report to the city. The city will use those reports to monitor how the elk behave. MIS director of development Lisa Robertson says the program is a great tool to get students thinking about science.
"It's really cool to learn about elk," Robertson said. "We're really lucky. We can look up on Jumbo in the mornings and see elk before we start our day in school."
The school's first elk spotting session is scheduled for Thursday, December 6. They'll track the elk every week until the program wraps up in March. The elk spotting program is open to anyone interested in serving as a citizen scientist, and more information is available here.