Julia Butler Hansen Refuge
Pacific Region



Wildlife Observation

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!

Cinnamon teal are common summer residents in refuge wetlands.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, Oregon Game Bird Regulations, and the Refuge Waterfowl Regulations (1.4 MB) handout for complete information.

Get a refuge Hunt Map and Brochure here (1.4 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 Kayaking ImageDepartment 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.


Last updated: March 27, 2014