Rules and Regulations

Alligator Eye

Quick links
Go to General Regulations
Go to Collecting Regulations
Go to Wildlife Regulations
Go to Trail Regulations
Go to Pet Walking Regulations
Go to Horseback Riding Regulations
Go to Hunting Regulations
Go to Fishing Regulations
Go to Boating Regulations
Go to Aircraft Regulations
Go to Firearm Regulations
Go to Water Sports Regulations
Go to Vehicles and Speed Limit Regulations
Go to Helpful Links

General Regulations

  • The refuge is open 24 hours a day, with the exception of the Headquarters/Lee Road area and entrance. The Headquarters/Lee Road area includes the A, B, and C Impoundments, outdoor facilities, grounds, boat ramp, and trails; these facilities are open daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. The Headquarters area is closed to public use from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am daily.
  • An entrance pass is required. Passes may be purchased seasonally at the fee booths, self-pay stations, or in the visitor center from 9 am to 4 pm daily. Visit the Hours and Entrance Fees page to learn more.
  • Visitors may only enter the refuge at designated entrances.
  • All litter, trash, and debris must be placed in proper trash receptacles.
  • We prohibit fires of any type and camping. Group camping and campfires will be allowed in the Strazzulla Tract by permit.
  • Persons under the age of 21 may not possess alcohol as defined in Florida Statute 562.111(1).

Collecting

 

  • Metal detectors and the searching for and taking of artifacts or objects of antiquity on the refuge is prohibited.
  • The collecting or taking of plants, animals, minerals, and/or artifacts or parts thereof is prohibited.

 


Wildlife

  • Feeding, enticing or harassing wildlife is prohibited.
  • The release of any animal or plant is prohibited.
  • Areas of the refuge may be restricted seasonally to avoid disturbance of breeding or nesting wildlife or to protect sensitive habitat.

Trails

  • We allow hiking, bicycling, pet walking, and equestrian use on designated trails and roads.
  • Parking is available to access the Perimeter Levee from the Headquarters Area entrance in Boynton Beach, from the Hillsboro Area entrance in Boca Raton, or from the 20 Mile Bend entrance in Loxahatchee.

Pets

  • Pets must be confined or on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
  • Locations where pets are permitted include: Pets are allowed in vehicles, on watercraft, boat ramp parking lots, and the Perimeter Levee.
  • Pets are not permitted in the A, B, or C Impoundments.
  • Pet owners must promptly and properly dispose of their pet’s waste.
  • Visitors may bring no more than two pets per person during their visit.
  • Pets may be restricted in some areas during events, or due to management-related activities.
  • Animals that are not permitted on the refuge include: unconfined domestic animals, animals listed by the state or federal government as Prohibited Nonnative Wildlife or Conditional Nonnative Species or Injurious Wildlife.
  • These rules and regulations do not impose restrictions on Service Animals.

Visit the Pet Walking page for more information.


Equestrian Use (Horseback Riding)

  • Horseback riding is permitted on the L-40 and L-39 sections of the perimeter levees, terminating south of the S-6 and S-362 structures.
  • Parking is available to access the perimeter levee from the Headquarters Area entrance at the Lee Road boat ramp or from the Hillsboro Area entrance at the Loxahatchee Road boat ramp.
  • Horses are required to wear manure containment bags and riders are responsible for removal of all horse manure from the refuge.
  • Clearing of vegetation is prohibited.
  • Each visitor may only ride/walk one horse on the refuge at a time and all horses must have a rider.
  • Horseback riders will share multi-purpose trails with hikers, bicyclists, pet walkers, and vehicles.
  • Horseback riders must yield to vehicular traffic.
  • Groups consisting of more than five horses will require a Special Use Permit.
  • Areas of the refuge may be restricted seasonally to avoid disturbance of breeding or nesting wildlife or to protect sensitive habitat.

Visit the Horseback Riding page for more information.


Hunting

Hunting is allowed in accordance with current Federal, State and Refuge regulations. All hunters are required to carry a signed Refuge Hunt Permit, which can be found in the refuge’s hunting brochure. Refuge hunting regulations are in the hunt brochure. 

Visit the Hunting page for more information.


Fishing


We allow sport fishing on designated areas of the refuge subject to the following conditions:

  • We allow fishing on all areas of the refuge, except those areas posted as closed to fishing or closed to the public.
  • Anglers may only use boats equipped with factory-manufactured-water-cooled outboard motors, boats with electric motors, and nonmotorized boats. We prohibit boats with air-cooled engines, fan boats, hovercraft, and personal watercraft (jet skis, jet boats, wave runners, etc.). We allow the use of airboats by permit only (Special Use Permit (FWS Form 3-1383-G)). Airboat permits will be issued through a separate lottery. Contact the refuge headquarters for airboat permitting information.
  • We allow motorized vessels in the Motorized Zone, south of latitude line 26°27.130, and perimeter canal. We allow only nonmotorized vessels in the Non Motorized Watercraft Zone, northern portion of Refuge Interior.
  • Anglers operating boats in the Refuge Interior, outside of the perimeter canal, are required to display a 10-inches by 12-inches (25 cm x 30 cm) orange flag 10-feet (3 meters) above the vessel's waterline.
  • We only allow the use of rods and reels and poles and lines, and anglers must attend them at all times. We prohibit the possession or use of cast nets, seines, trot lines, jugs, and other fishing devices.
  • We allow frog gigging, bow fishing, and fish gigging in all areas open to sport fishing, except in the A, B, and C Impoundments and Strazzulla Marsh.
  • We prohibit frog gigging, bow fishing, and fish gigging from structures and from within 1/2 mile of refuge boat ramps, campsites, and canoe trails, and in areas posted as closed.
  • We allow the taking of frogs from July 16 through March 15 of each year.
  • The daily bag limit for frogs is 50 frogs per vessel or party.
  • Fish and frogs must remain in whole condition while on refuge lands.
  • Frogs may only be taken by gig, blowgun, or hook and line, or by hand.
  • We limit frogging or fishing by airboat to non-hunting airboat permittees only.
  • We prohibit commercial fishing, including unpermitted commercial guiding, and the taking of turtles and other wildlife (see § 27.21 of this chapter).
  • We allow 17 fishing tournaments a year by Special Use Permit only (General Activities—Special Use Permit Application, FWS Form 3-1383-G).
Visit the Fishing page for more information.

Boating

  • Federal, state, and Refuge regulations apply. Boaters should have all required U.S. Coast Guard approved safety equipment on-board.
  • We allow boats equipped with factory-manufactured-water-cooled outboard motors, boats with electric motors, and non-motorized boats. We prohibit mud boats, “Go-Devil” style boats, fan boats, hovercraft, and personal watercraft (e.g., Jet Skis, jet boats, wave runners). 
  • Motorized vessels are allowed in the perimeter canal and the motorized zone south of latitude line N 26° 27.130 within the refuge interior. Motorized vessels are prohibited in the non-motorized zone north of latitude line N 26° 27.130. Only pole, paddle and float boats are allowed in the non-motorized zone.
  • We allow airboats by permit only and in separate phases. A refuge operator’s permit, vessel inspection, and refuge vessel permit are required.
  • Boating is not permitted in the A, B, and C Impoundments, Strazzulla, and those areas marked as being closed to the public. Motorized watercraft is prohibited on the canoe trail.
  • There is a 35 miles per hour (mph) speed limit in all waters of the refuge.
  • A 500-foot (150-meter) “idle speed zone” surrounds each of the refuge's three boat ramps.
  • All boats operating in the Refuge Interior, outside of the perimeter canal, are required to display a 10-inches by 12-inches (25 cm x 30 cm) orange flag 10-feet (3 meters) above the vessel’s waterline so that others may see you.
Visit the Boating page for more information.

Aircraft

We prohibit the operation of aircraft, including unmanned aircraft, drones, sail planes, and hang gliders, at altitudes resulting in harassment of wildlife, or the unauthorized landing or take-off of aircraft on a national wildlife refuge, except in an emergency. National wildlife refuge boundaries are designated on up to date FAA aeronautical charts. 
 
See 50 CFR §27.34 for more information.

Firearms

Persons possessing firearms must comply with all Federal and State laws.

Water Sports

Swimming, water skiing, scuba diving, or snorkeling are prohibited.

Vehicles and Speed Limits

The speed limit on all refuge roads is 15 MPH unless otherwise posted. Motorized vehicles of any type are prohibited on trails, levees, or undesignated roadways.

Commercial Activity

We prohibit commercial activity with the following exception: We allow ceremonies, instructor-led small group activities, commercial tours, commercial guided hunting and fishing, and commercial recording by permit only.