Beaver can often be seen in the evening when they begin foraging.
Muskrats are found in sloughs and ditches, although they are not
nearly as abundant as the larger nutria, a non-native aquatic species,
which are often seen waddling across the dikes and swimming in vegetated
sloughs and ditches. Nutria eat aquatic plants and thus compete
with native wildlife such as muskrats and waterfowl. River otters
and mink can sometimes be seen hunting in the larger sloughs and
river. Deer and elk are most easily observed year-round in the early
morning and evening. Look for them in pastures along Steamboat Slough
and Brooks Slough Roads, and from the wildlife viewing site on State
Highway 4. Beginning with the fall rut in November and throughout
the winter, deer are more active in the daytime and are more often
seen in open areas.
The white-tailed deer and black-tailed deer are two different species.
White-tailed deer have a longer, lighter-colored tail than then
the black-tailed deer. The Columbian white-tailed buck's antlers
branch up from a single beam, whereas the black-tailed buck's antlers
do not. The white-tailed doe has a prominent white eye ring and
the black-tailed doe does not. This eye ring difference may be difficult to see by the casual observer.
Bird Watching is Great at Julia Butler Hansen Refuge!
The grasslands, sloughs, wetlands and woodlands of this refuge make great habitat for a diversity of birds, including raptors, swallows, waterfowl, sparrows, flycatchers, owls, wrens, herons and bitterns.
Refuge Bird List (PDF 131KB)
Julia Butler Hansen Refuge is part of The Great Washington State Birding Trail.
More information on birding in Washington State, including maps, resources and recent sightings.
Hunting of geese, ducks, coots, and snipe is permitted in specific units of the refuge in accordance with federal and state hunting regulations. Areas open to hunting include the shorelines, tidelands and sloughs of Hunting Island in Washington State and Wallace and Crims Islands in Oregon State. All other refuge units including the Mainland and Tenasillahe Island Units are closed to waterfowl hunting. Consult the Washington
State Migratory Waterfowl Pamphlet and the Refuge Waterfowl Regulations (1.4 MB) handout for complete information.
Get a refuge Hunt Map here (1.2 MB).
Waters around the refuge, including the Elochoman River; Steamboat
Slough, Brooks Slough and the Columbia River; are open to fishing
in accordance with Washington and Oregon state regulations for seasons and limits. Bank
fishing is permitted along open shorelines. Interior sloughs in
all refuge units are closed to fishing.
Hunting, Price, Tenasillahe, Crims and Wallace Islands are accessible
only by boat. Public launching facilities are available in washington
at the Cathlamet Mooring Basin, the Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife boat launch on State Highway 4 between Cathlamet
and Skamokawa, and at Skamokawa Vista Park. Launch facilities on
the Oregon shore are available at Aldrich Point east of Astoria.
Kayak and canoe rentals are available by appointment in Skamokawa, WA.
Tidal flows, strong winds, and large wakes from ships can make boating
difficult and sometimes dangerous. Deep channels separate most of
the islands at high tide, but during low tides, sandbars and exposed
logs may hinder your travel or even ground your boat. Consult navigation
charts and tide tables before venturing out. See salt
water tides for additional tide tables.
Hiking within the Mainland Unit is permitted during daylight hours
on Center Road from June through September; and on Steamboat Slough
and Brooks Slough Roads year round. Hiking on Tenasillahe Island
is permitted only on the dike surrounding the island. Hiking is
not allowed off of these established roads.