National Elk Refuge Senior Wildlife Biologist Eric Cole reported yesterday that major elk movements to the Refuge finally began the week of December 19th, which is approximately three weeks later than usual.
Currently, there are 4200 elk, 36 pronghorn and 28 bighorn sheep on the reserve. Cole says record warm temperatures in late November and low snow accumulations at lower and mid elevation areas during the fall likely contributed to late elk migration.
Late migration also resulted in one of the lowest elk harvests on record for the Refuge hunt, with only 41 total elk harvested on the refuge. That compares with the 10-year mean of 180 elk harvested.
No bison have been observed so far this season on the south end of the Refuge, and most bison are well north of the Refuge at this time. Cole says natural forage is still readily available to the wintering elk, so supplemental feeding is not needed at this time.