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.

Firearms

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. 

Ammunition

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.

Dogs

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. 

Baiting

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.

Programs

A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
A law enforcement officer standing in his truck in a desert setting looking through binoculars
Guided by the founding principles of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, federal wildlife officers protect wildlife and habitat and make refuges safe places for staff and visitors; conserve America’s natural resources; and seek to exemplify...

Facilities

Thunderstorm over prairie wetlands in North Dakota
Chase Lake Wetland Management District is located in the famous "Prairie Pothole Region," an area with many small wetlands and a key area for breeding waterfowl in North America. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the District helps protect more than 140,00 acres of wetland and...
Waterfowl on a pond in the Prairie Pothole Region
Arrowwood Wetland Management District was established in 1961 as a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the District helps conserve wildlife on more than 35,000 acres of land in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. These pristine...
Sandhill cranes over Long Lake
Long Lake Wetland Management District staff oversee more than 100,000 acres with U.S. Fish and Wildlife interests. Management practices help protect and maintain wetland and grassland habitats that preserve the integrity of the historic and vital nesting and breeding grounds of North America’s...
Drake blue-winged teal swimming on the water
Valley City Wetland Management District (Valley City WMD ) helps conserve wildlife habitat on more than 89,000 acres that benefit migratory birds, wildlife, and provide recreational opportunities for people. The Prairie Pothole Region is named for its many small wetlands that resemble potholes;...
Prairie Pothole Landscape
The Audubon Wetland Management District oversees approximately 155,000 acres of U.S. Fish and Wildlife land and interests. This includes 84 Waterfowl Production Areas, 12 National Wildlife Refuges, and numerous wetland and grassland easements in McLean and Sheridan Counties. These lands have...
Dotted Blazing Star Wildflower
Crosby Wetland Management District is one of 11 Wetland Management Districts in North Dakota. The Crosby Wetland Management District includes Lake Zahl National Wildlife Refuge, over 90 Waterfowl Production Areas, and numerous wetland and grassland conservation easements.
pair of northern shovelers wading in shallow water
Covering eight counties in northeastern North Dakota, the Devils Lake Wetland Management District helps protect more than 258,000 acres of wetland and grassland habitat. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, the District lands and waters benefit numerous migratory birds and resident...
J. Clark Salyer WMD Herd Lake WPA
J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935. The Refuge lies in the lakebed of glacial Lake Souris, once home to the Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Hidatsa, Lakota, and Mandan tribes of American Indians. Retreating glaciers created the rolling hills and temporary wetlands of...
Yellow and purple wildflowers in a prairie
Kulm Wetland Management District includes four counties that are nestled in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. This region contains unparalleled wetland and grassland habitats for waterfowl and other migratory birds and many other species of wildlife. Our focus is on the conservation and...
Three ring-necked ducks swimming along brown cattails; two drakes, one hen
Tewaukon Wetland Management District lies on the western edge of the northern tallgrass prairie and within the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. The Prairie Pothole Region is named for its many small wetlands that resemble potholes. Located in southeastern North Dakota, the District helps...