Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Bird Reservation. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” The newly established “Lake Malheur Bird Reservation” was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president. At the time, Malheur was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mississippi.

The Refuge is located 30 miles south of Burns, Oregon in the southeast corner of the state. The Refuge is open from dawn until dusk each day. The Visitor Center at Refuge Headquarters will be open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm each day beginning March 10. Brochures are available in brochure boxes outside of the Visitor Center. The Refuge Museum, located at Headquarters, is open from dawn until dusk each day.

You may also be interested in recent bird sightings in the area hosted by

Carp Research Project

Malheur Refuge is continuing research on methods to eliminate carp from Malheur Lake. PIT tagged carp were released in the lake in April as part of the latest project. The Refuge is now using a commercial fishing operation, J.R. Commercial Fish from Minnesota, to net large amounts of invasive common carp in Malheur Lake. Funding for this project came from the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Pacific Foods of Oregon.

Random samples at a variety of locations and water depths on the lake are being fished using a seine net. Each location fished is recorded using a GPS to identify the total area encapsulated by the net. All captured fish are being scanned for the presence of PIT tags, the total number of fish captured is recorded, and 200 fish from each sample are being weighed, measured and the sex of each fish is determined. This data will be used by refuge staff to determine the overall population of carp in Malheur Lake. This data will help determine carp control tools and prevention options.

In addition to the data being collected during this project the feasibility of commercial fishing in Malheur Lake is also being explored as part of the project. Jeff Riedemann of J.R. Commercial Fish and his crew have been fishing for carp in the Minnesota and other mid-western states for a number of years. They have participated in a number of carp removal research projects conducted by researchers in Minnesota and were selected for their work at Malheur based on their experience netting carp in shallow lakes. They will use their time on Malheur Lake to evaluate the effectiveness of fishing equipment for large scale capture of invasive carp on Malheur Lake. A video of the use of seine nets to capture carp in Minnesota can be viewed at

A fisherman pulls in a portion of a 3700 foot long seine net on Malheur Lake. Over 1100 carp in a seine net on Malheur Lake The last of the 1100 carp are pulled into a boat from the seine net Photo Credits Carla Burnside, USFWS

Fisherman assist with removal of invasive common carp on Malheur Lake as part

of a research project to determine the overall carp population in Malheur Lake


Caspian Terns have returned to the nesting island on Malheur Lake. Two cameras hosted by Bird Research Northwest, a partnership between Oregon State University, Real Time Research, and the USGS - Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research, have been setup on the island. Camera 1 is located on the blind used by observers and offers an elevated view of terns and other birds using the island. Camera 2 is at ground level and will aid in better identification of fish species being fed to chicks later in the summer. Over 250 decoys have been placed on the island to entice the terns to nest. Bird Research Northwest is monitoring tern nesting and foraging behavior on a constructed island on Malheur Lake.

An adult caspian tern flies into the nesting island on Malheur Lake with a juvenile fish to feed to its chick.

A Caspian Tern arrives with a fish to feed to its chick on the Tern Nesting Island on Malheur Lake.


Travel Advisor

The Center Patrol Road has had rock and gravel added to the surface to improve road stability and improve year-round road conditions.

Unfortunately this has resulted in an increased number of flat tires for visitors and staff. Please be advised that your tires should have good tread on them and be in good condition before travelling on portions of the northern section of the Center Patrol Road.

We are sorry for any inconvenience.

Support Aquatic Health - Scale by Scale

 Leave more than a memory at Malheur, purchase a scale for "Byrdie" to benefit Aquatic Health related projects!

Byrdie - a wood sculpture of a carp - will be covered with scales to help combat invasive common carp

Together, we can provide assistance and support to our Refuge to ensure the health of fish and wildlife by Scaling Back Carp. Purchasing a scale for Byrdie will directly support fish inventory and monitoring, fish collection and tagging, and other fisheries related work. Inquire at the Visitor Center located at Refuge Headquarters or by calling 541-493-2612.

Get Involved with the Refuge

The Refuge offers a variety of volunteer opportunities which contribute to the overall management of the Refuge. Members of the public can also join the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Learn more about what's happening on the Refuge

The Aquatic Health program is making great strides in understanding how invasive common carp are effecting refuge wetlands. The week of September 17th was spent sampling carp at various locations on the refuge. Kidney samples were obtained from 120 carp to obtain bacteria samples. Fisheries biologists were also recording the various age classes of carp caught in nets to obtain a clearer understanding of population sizes. Check out our new brochure to learn more about this problem.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 36391 Sodhouse Lane, Princeton, Oregon 97721 (541) 493-2612

Last updated: MaY 1, 2014