Devils Lake Wetland Management District
Mountain-Prairie Region

Devils Lake Staff


Devils Lake Wetland Management District is located in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States. The northeastern North Dakota counties of Towner, Cavalier, Pembina, Benson, Ramsey, Walsh, Nelson, and Grand Forks are included in the District. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the District primarily provides wetland areas needed by waterfowl in the spring and summer for nesting and feeding. Hundreds of thousands of waterfowl also use these wetlands in the spring and fall for feeding and resting during their long migratory flights.

Primary objectives of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District are wetland habitat preservation and improvement, waterfowl and wildlife production, maintenance of migration habitat, and provision of winter cover for resident wildlife. To meet these objectives, the District manages over 45,000 acres of wetlands and other wildlife habitats located on approximately 201 separate Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA's), Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge (12,200 acres), Sullys Hill National Game Preserve (1,674 acres), Kelly Slough National Wildlife Refuge (1,867 acres), eleven easement refuges, and 154,000 acres of wetland easements. WPA's are lands owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are managed to establish and protect waterfowl breeding and nesting habitats. Easements on private lands protect wetlands from draining, filling, and burning.


Two major geological areas divide the Devils Lake Wetland Management District. The Northeastern Drift Plain, consisting of many shallow potholes or lakes scattered among rolling hills, covers the western two thirds of the District, while an old lake bed, a remnant of glacial Lake Agassiz, covers the Red River Valley in the east.

Early Indian tribes in the region found the native grasslands and wetlands rich with wildlife. Early settlers also found abundant wildlife, but changes in land use practices and intensive agricultural development have cause depletion of countless numbers of bison, elk, and clouds of migratory birds.

Only through a commitment to protect and manage our remaining wetlands and upland habitats, can we hope to reverse the declining numbers of waterfowl and migratory birds, and ensure that self-sustaining populations of the native wildlife produced in the region remain.

Wildlife and Wildlife Management

Devils Lake Wetland Management District is home for all waterfowl species found in the Prairie Pothole Region. Mallard, gadwall, and blue-winged teal are the most abundant ducks, with several other species of diving and dabbling ducks common to the area. Giant Canada geese have been reintroduced and efforts are underway to expand the range of this historically important species. Spectacular concentrations of waterfowl and other migratory birds gather in the District each spring and fall, including snow geese, whose vast numbers are a magnificent sight.

WPA's also provide habitat for many resident species of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, pheasants, turkeys, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge, and occasional moose. Creating habitat diversity and managing wildlife cover on WPA's result in an increase in wildlife abundance, an important objective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Wetland Management District uses many management practices to benefit waterfowl. These management techniques include construction of nesting structures, wetland creation and restoration, management of water levels in wetlands, establishing winter food plots, managing nesting cover, prescribed burning, haying, farming, grazing, and law enforcement. These techniques also enhance and create a diversity of habitats that are used by many wildlife species.

Recreational Opportunities

Waterfowl Production Areas provide many opportunities for year-round outdoor enjoyment. Hunting and trapping are permitted within State seasons, under applicable Federal and State laws. In addition, WPA's offer excellent opportunities for wildlife observation, photography, and environmental study. Foot travel is permitted and encouraged, but please remember that motorized traffic is strictly prohibited.

Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge is open for hunting of several game species in accordance with State seasons and special Refuge regulations. Sullys Hill National Game Preserve, however, is not open for hunting or trapping.

Visitors are invited to stop in at the Wetland Management District headquarters in Devils Lake, North Dakota, for additional information regarding activities on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land.

Last updated: March 1, 2012