Whitebark pine is a keystone species of high elevation forests in western North America that is experiencing rapid decline due to fire exclusion policies, mountain pine beetle, and the introduced pathogen, white pine blister rust. Restoration activities include collecting cones and growing seedlings from individuals that show mechanisms for resistance to blister rust infections. Collecting viable whitebark pine seeds is challenging due to high rates of cone harvest by wildlife prior to seed maturation. This has led to the practice of placing protective coverings over the cones early in the summer, and then collecting them when they fully mature in September. We investigate if the added time, expense, and complications of using protective coverings over cone bearing branches are required for the collection of viable whitebark pine seeds. Aside from anecdotal sources, there appears to be no quantitative information demonstrating this is necessary. We determined the optimal time for cone collection by comparing the timing of seed development and germination rates compared to the timing of seed harvest by wildlife in a stand in Banff National Park, in the northern region of its range. Results clearly indicate that in to collect viable seeds from whitebark pine, protective coverings must be put over unripe cones so that collections can be made at any time from late August to late September.