Continuing warm weather appears to be keeping elk off the refuge and in the high country for now. National Elk Refuge Biologist Eric Cole says the average number of elk counted on refuge this week was only 79 animals. No radio or GPS collared elk have been detected on the refuge so far this fall. The 2012 migration he says appears comparable to last year, when large number of elk did not arrive on NER until late November. Additionally, he points to the implementation of a south unit elk hunt in 2007 which has discouraged elk from moving into that so-called “safe zone” early in the season. Previously, he says nearly 4,000 might be on that portion of the refuge by Thanksgiving weekend. Once the hunts are concluded and the elk begin their migration to the refuge for the winter, Cole says the objectives are for that to be around 5,000 in the wintering herd.