Frequently Asked Questions
1. When is the Great Swamp Open?
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is open year-round from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. Occasionally, the refuge is closed due to special events or hazardous weather conditions (e.g. flooding/snow). Please call ahead to insure we are open: 973-425-1222.
2. What is there to see?
People are encouraged to observe, study, photograph and walk with nature in designated public areas. The best times for observing wildlife are early in the morning and late afternoon. Because of large number of visitors in the spring and fall, wildlife viewing on Sundays is often less rewarding. The refuge has close to 10 miles of foot access trails, with varying difficulty from which wildlife can be viewed. There are also three wildlife observation blinds and one wildlife overlook. Pleasant Plains Road is a good place to view wildlife from your vehicle. The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge also recommends that you visit the Raptor Trust (for information please call 908-647-8211), the Somerset County Environmental Educational Center (for information please call 908-766-2489) and the Morris County Outdoor Education Center (for information please call 973-635-6629). There is also the Watchung Reservation, Morristown Historical Park, Sherman Hoffman Aubudon Center and several other outdoor recreation areas located close to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
3. Do you give tours? Do you have guides? Do you have programs for children?
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge no longer has sufficient staff to give tours. However, refuge staff do work with the Friends of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to offer tours. For more information on the Friends tours, please contact Ms. Judy Schmidt at 908-647-2508. If you wish to have a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Representative, please arrange that through the Friends Group. There are no regularly scheduled tour programs.
4. How do I go about arranging a tour for a school, boy scouts, girl scouts group, etc.? How do I arrange a talk with a refuge employee for my club?
Refer to question #3.
5. Where can I go to see particular birds or animals?
The most popular places to see birds and mammals are the drive on Pleasant Plains Road and the wildlife observation blinds at the Wildlife Observation Center. For viewing reptiles and amphibians, the boardwalks at the Wildlife Observation Center is the best area.
6. Can we fish, camp or boat? Where can we do these activities?
There is no camping, fishing or boating allowed on the refuge Two county parks in the area that do allow camping by permit are Mahlon Dickerson and Lewis Morris Park. For information please contact the Morris County Park Commission at 973-326-7600. State areas that allow camping and other out door activities can be found by calling 1-800-2-CAMPNJ. For hunting and fishing information in the state, please call 609-292-2965 or go to www.state.njus/dep/fgw. For boating information please contact the Somerset County Environmental Education Center at 908-766-2489.
7. May I bring a pet?
Pets are only allowed on a leash, not to exceed 10 feet, to walk along Pleasant Plains Road and in parking areas. Pets are not allowed on the boardwalks at the Wildlife Observation Center and pets are not allowed on the hiking trails. In general, pets are not encouraged due to their potential to disturb wildlife.
8. Can we bike or roller blade?
Biking and roller blading are not allowed on refuge trails. Biking is allowed along Pleasant Plains Road which is unpaved for most of its length through the refuge.
9. What shall I do with an injured bird, animal or amphibian?
If you have found an injured bird, you should call the Raptor Trust at 908-647-2353. For all other wildlife, visit the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife website for a list of approved rehabilitators by county or by species (http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/rehablst.htm) . You may also call for help. For an injured, nuisance or orphaned young mammal(s), call the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife at 908-735-8793. For snakes, turtles, frogs, birds and other animals; call the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, Endangered Species and Nongame Program at 908-735-8975. Otherwise, contact the local animal shelter: St. Hubert's Giralda Animal Hospital at 973-377-2295. If you have nuisance Canadian geese or bats, please call the Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control at 908-735-5654.
10. What should I do with a bear on my property?
If you are experiencing nuisance or damage problems related to black bears or have an aggressive bear on your property, please call 908-735-8793. For all other bear information, please call 908-637-4125 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. What should I do with baby fawns when the mother is not in sight?
If the fawns are located on the refuge do nothing. If the deer are off the refuge you should in nearly all cases do nothing, leave quietly and quickly. In almost all cases, the mother is nearby and will return.
12. Is there train or bus service to the refuge?
Local towns do have train stations, but there is no transportation service between the train stations and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. One would have to call a local car service to gain transportation: for the Berkeley Heights area, Berkeley Heights Cab Company at 908-464-5454. The towns of Stirling and Gillette are the closest towns with train stations.
13. May I bring youngsters to pet the animals?
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge does not have any domesticated, live animals for public display. The wildlife that resides on the refuge are only for viewing. Collecting, disturbing or destroying plants, animals or parts thereof, is prohibited.
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Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is located only 26 miles west of New York City’s Times Square. It is a 12-square-mile natural oasis in an area that is mostly suburban, making the refuge an outstanding area for migrating waterfowl to stop, rest and feed on their migration.