Frequently Asked Questions
What are National Wildlife Refuges?
The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex is part of a larger system of about 540 refuges with over 93 million acres in all 50 states. The National Wildlife Refuge System, administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The objective of the refuge system is to preserve a network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish and wildlife. Refuges not only provide essential habitat for wildlife, they offer an unspoiled environment for people to enjoy the beauty of wildlands.
How do I get to the Humboldt Bay NWR Complex?
Visit our Maps and Directions page.
there public access on your refuges?
Public access is available at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is restricted at the Lanphere Dunes and Ma-le'l Units. The public is not allowed on Castle Rock.
Are there any fees to use your refuges?
Yes. There is a fee for hunting.
I bring my dog with me to the wildlife refuge?
To avoid conflicts with wildlife and visitors, pets are not permitted on the refuge.
Are there hunting opportunities at the Humboldt Bay NWRC?
Waterfowl hunting is permitted in designated areas of Humboldt Bay NWR and governed by Federal and State regulations. Waterfowl hunting on the Salmon Creek Unit takes place Tuesdays and Saturdays only, from mid-late October until late January. For current information, see the refuge hunting brochure or call (707) 733-5518. All firearms must be unloaded and cased. All hunters
should review the current California Game Bird Regulations published
by the California Department of Fish and Game as all State waterfowl regulations apply to hunting on Humboldt Bay NWR.
Why are hunting and fishing allowed on this National Wildlife Refuge, but not walking my dog, jogging, or biking?
The National Wildlife Refuge System was established in 1903 to “preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, and plant resources of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations.” This includes the following six priority public uses: wildlife observation, photography, interpretation, environmental education, hunting, and fishing. These pursuits are all wildlife dependent, while other activities such as jogging, biking, and dog walking can disturb wildlife and other visitors and can be done at many other places.
Why is there haying and/or grazing on the refuge?
In the early 1900s most of the saltmarsh around the bay was diked off to create pasture. When kept short and nutritious, these grasslands are used each winter and spring by many species of shorebirds, tundra swans, wigeon, and especially thousands of Aleutian cackling geese. This once endangered population of geese has recovered from less than 800 in 1974 to more than 100,000 in 2006. These geese are now having an increasing economic impact on local ranchers as significant numbers of geese graze on private lands. To maintain optimal conditions for wildlife, management techniques include a combination of mowing, haying, and grazing.
Where are the hot spots for bird watching?
Visit our Birding page for more
information and a species list .
What animals can I see at the Humboldt Bay NWR Complex?
There is a wide variety of wildlife using the Humboldt Bay NWRC. Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish are all abundant. Visit our Wildlife page for descriptions of some of the commonly seen wildlife and a species checklist.
should I do with an injured wild animal?
you have found an injured wild animal please take a few moments to read
the following to give the injured
animal its best possible chance of recovery.
- Please do not handle any wild animal--doing so risks your
safety and the safety of others.
- Never handle a large bird of prey, raccoon, skunk, deer, or
opossum. These animals have
particularly powerful talons, teeth, legs, and claws.
- Keep a safe distance from the animal. Do what you can to
protect it from harassment by pets or people.
- Contact a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. To find
one near you visit the International
Wildlife Rehabilitation Council web page.
- Injured & Problem Wildlife Numbers:
County Animal Control: 707-445-7223
California Dept. of Fish and Game: 707-445-6493
Wildlife Care Center (injured animal hotline): 707-822-8839
HSU Marine Wildlife Care Center (oiled birds only): 707-826-3450
How can I become a volunteer?
Volunteers are very important to the refuge’s success. Volunteers work alongside refuge staff and partners on virtually all refuge programs including interpretation and environmental education, office assistance, wildlife management activities, and a variety of maintenance duties. Please contact us in the office or at (707) 733-5406.
Can my classroom visit these refuges?
You bet! The refuge offers opportunities and guidance for outdoor class activities. Call (707) 733-5406 for information.
Can I use images on this website for my report, slide show, or school project?
Most of the images on this site have been taken by USFWS staff or volunteers and are therefore in the public domain. You can use any image on this site with "U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service" or "USFWS" or with the photographer's name followed by USFWS. When using these images, please credit the photographer exactly as shown below the image. All images that just have a photographer's name are protected by copyright laws and may not be used without permission from the photographer. For more USFWS images in the public domain visit Image Gallery.
Are GIS data sets available for the Humboldt Bay NWRC?
Data are available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service GIS and Spatial Data website.
can I get a job with the USFWS?
Visit USAJOBS for the current listing of jobs with the Federal Government.