The National Elk Refuge issued its first group of alternate elk hunting permits Monday, allowing hunters additional opportunities for harvesting elk on the refuge this fall. Refuge officials say the process for issuing alternate permits changed for the 2012 elk hunting season, but stillrequires hunters to apply on-line for the available permits. Elk hunters have several opportunities throughout the year to obtain a refuge hunting permit. Officials point out that hunters initially had from mid-August through late September to apply on-line for a designated week during the hunting season, entering their application into a lottery system. The results of the computerized random draw were then posted on the application web site by the end of September. The permits for any weeks where fewer applications were made than what permits are available then become available on a first-come, first-served basis. Refuge officials refer to these as leftover permits, and make them available throughout the season until all the permits have been taken. Applicants who were successful for one hunt period during the late September drawing may reapply for a first-come, first served leftover permit valid for another hunt period. A third opportunity to obtain an elk hunting permit will come later in the season.