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Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes: Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Northeast Montana Wetland Management District (WMD) and Lamesteer National Wildlife Refuge. Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located on the heavily glaciated rolling plains of northeastern Montana , between the Missouri River and the Canadian border. The Refuge, established in 1935, provides important breeding and stopover habitats for a diverse array of migratory birds. Medicine Lake NWR encompasses 31,702 acres and consists of two separate tracts. The 28,438-acre north tract includes the 8,218-acre Medicine Lake as well as 17 smaller water units.

Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge was set aside to protect the wildlife heritage of the United States. A valuable part of protecting that heritage includes providing opportunities for people to enjoy wildlife through photography, observation, hunting, fishing, and environmental education. The annual migration of hundreds of thousands of birds makes Medicine Lake a premier destination for birdwatchers and wildlife photographers. Waterfowl and upland bird hunters also find quality opportunities. Winter brings ice fishing opportunities for northern pike in Medicine Lake.

Explore Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge (Wildlife Slide Show, may take a few minutes to download.)

Turn north on Montana Highway 16 off U.S. Highway 2 at Culbertson. Follow Highway 16 north for approximately 22 miles until you reach the Refuge, which is marked with a large entrance sign on the North Shore Road.

The town of Medicine Lake is located near the northwest boundary of the Medicine Lake NWR. The Fort Peck Indian Reservation borders the west boundary. The towns of Plentywood and Culbertson are about 20 miles equidistant north and south, respectively, along Montana State Highway 16.

Visitor Maps
Refuge Map (Coming Soon)
Hunting Map
Wetland Management District Map
Fishing Map

Regional Travel
Montana Travel –Missouri River Country

Campgrounds and

Management & Planning
Comprehensive Conservation Plan



What are hunting conditions this year? Bird Hunting Seasons and Conditions

What is the best time for hunting waterfowl? It varies with weather and water conditions, but generally in mid October. Lakes usually freeze in mid November.

What waterfowl species are found? Nesting ducks are mallard, gadwall, northern pintail, northern shoveler, blue-winged teal, and lesser scaup, with 14 breeding species. 300 breeding pairs of Plains Canada Geese. Spring and fall migrations bring thousands of ducks, Canada and white-fronted geese, tundra swans, with occasional snow geese.

When is the best time to view certain birds? Sharp-tailed grouse dance in April and May. Prairie songbird choruses peak in June. Spring shorebird migration peaks in mid May, with the summer peak in late July or August. Waterfowl migration peaks in May and October. . Breeding waterbirds such as white pelicans and grebes can be seen through summer with peak nesting in June. Western grebes perform their courtship dance during May.

Is non-toxic shot required for all hunting? Non-toxic shot is required for all shotgun hunting on the Refuge and Wetland Production Areas.

Can I use a powered ice auger for fishing? The majority of Medicine Lake is a wilderness. The use of all mechanized equipment including powered ice augers is prohibited in the wilderness. The Lake west of Highway 16 is not wilderness and you may use powered ice augers

Can I camp on the Refuge? Camping is not allowed on the refuge. For information about private campground visit: and

Are Sandhill Crane permits available at the Refuge? Free sandhill crane permits are available from the Refuge office on a first-come basis during business hours. Hunting of sandhill cranes on the refuge is prohibited, but all WPAs are open to crane hunting.

Are Refuge Swan permits available? No, swan permits are available from Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks. Hunting of swans on the refuge is prohibited, but all Waterfowl Productions Areas are open to swan hunting.



Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge
223 North Shore Road
Medicine Lake , MT 59247


Office Hours
Monday – Friday 7:00 am to 3:30 pm
Mountain Standard Time

406/789-2305 PHONE
406/789-2350 FAX EMAI

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