Public Use Regulations for North Dakota Waterfowl Production Areas

Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside specifically for wildlife. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System is a living heritage, conserving wildlife and habitat for people today and for generations to come.

North Dakota has over 289,000 acres of habitat conserved as WPAs. These lands are purchased with funds from the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as the “Duck Stamp.” The wetland and grassland habitats on WPAs are managed to provide important resting and breeding grounds for migratory birds, waterfowl, and other wildlife. By providing permanent habitat, these WPAs help sustain North America’s waterfowl populations.

Wildlife-dependent recreational activities are allowed on WPAs. These activities include hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation.

General Regulations

Please observe the following regulations to protect natural resources and to help ensure your visit will be safe and enjoyable.

  • Vehicles are allowed only on designated roads, parking areas, and on the ice for ice fishing. 
  • Vehicle access to ice is limited to ice that is accessible from a right-of-way or designated road.
  • Vehicles must be licensed in accordance with State laws and regulations.
  • Motorized boats are allowed for wildlife-dependent activities. Boats that must be launched from a trailer are limited to waters that are accessible from a right-of-way or designated road.
  • Collection of mature wild fruits, berries, seeds, above-ground portions of asparagus, mushrooms, and rhubarb for personal, daily, non-commercial use is allowed.
  • Commercial activities are not allowed unless authorized by a special use permit issued by the district manager.
Prohibited Activities
  • Overnight camping
  • Fires
  • Target and recreational shooting
  • Riding or using horses for any purpose
  • Dog training (personal or professional)
  • Removing or disturbing property, including artifacts
  • Removing natural objects or destroying plants, excluding the gathering of dead plant materials for on-site blind construction
  • Littering, including leaving trash, spent shotgun shells, or debris
  • Discarding of animal carcasses 
  • Drones may not be launched, landed, or flown over WPAs

Hunting Regulations 

Unless otherwise noted, hunting is allowed in accordance with North Dakota state regulations.


Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32). Firearms may only be fired on the WPA in conjunction with a legal hunt for which the hunter is licensed. 


Small game hunters using shotguns are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot.

Big Game Hunting Equipment and Removal

Portable tree stands, portable ground blinds, and game cameras may be used for big game hunting from August 20 to January 31. Equipment not removed by January 31 will be considered abandoned property and subject to removal and confiscation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Equipment left unattended must have an identification tag that includes the owner’s name, address, and telephone number; or a unique identification number issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. The identification tag must be readable from the ground. The use of nails, wire, screws, or bolts to attach a stand or steps to a tree is prohibited. With the exception of the big game hunting equipment listed previously, all personal property must be removed at the end of each day.


The use of dogs is encouraged for hunting upland game birds and waterfowl. Dogs are allowed for other activities only if the dog is confined to a vehicle, boat, fish house, or is on a leash controlled by the handler. 


The distribution of bait and hunting over bait is prohibited.

Fishing Regulations

Unless otherwise noted, fishing is allowed in accordance with North Dakota state regulations.

Fish Houses

Fish houses may be used for ice fishing in accordance with State regulations. Fish houses may not be left unattended in uplands or in parking areas.

Equipment Removal

Boats, motor vehicles, fishing equipment, and other personal property (excluding fish houses) must be removed at the end of each day.

Trapping Regulations

Trapping is allowed in accordance with Federal and State regulations.


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