Rules and Regulations

There are lots of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the refuge.  Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn’t help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably refuge rules governing this activity.  Please check with refuge management staff before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself.  There are plenty of activities at Nisqually for you to enjoy.  Be safe and have fun!

There are a few activities that are not permitted on the Refuge because they may interfere with or detract from the management, conservation, or protection of Refuge fish and wildlife resources. 

Pets are Prohibited

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR is set aside for the protection and preservation of wildlife. Please feel free to enjoy the opportunity to view wildlife and habitats but leave your pet at home. The prohibition of pets including dogs is to reduce disturbance to wildlife and habitat. There are studies that have been done that show that wildlife in the vicinity of trails, even where dogs are leashed, are negatively affected, causing lower wildlife abundance along the trail. It may be because wildlife instinctively look at dogs as predators, whether they are leashed or not.

The Refuge is Not a Park

Activities such as jogging, bicycling, Frisbee throwing and kite flying are not permitted because they are disturbing to wildlife and to other visitors. These should be done in parks that allow these activities.  Personal watercraft are limited to a 5 mph speed restriction due to wildlife and habitat disturbance and may be more appropriate in other locations; the sanctuary area is closed to boating.

No Overnight Use

The Refuge is only open to the public from sunrise to sunset. There is no camping allowed on the Refuge; campfires are also not permitted.  Parking vehicles overnight is prohibited.   Please note: an electronic gate on a timer opens around sunrise and closes shortly after sunset.  Vehicles left in our parking lot at sunset will be locked in over night.

Audio Playback is Not Allowed

Human activities on a refuge must be compatible with the primary wildlife purposes of each Refuge. The use of playback tapes is an issue of growing concern as the use of technology for birding and wildlife photography continues to increase and evolve. Some birders will use bird calls in the field to verify a call they have heard. They may play the call quietly so only they are able to hear it or use headphones, which minimize any potential impact on birds in the wild. However, regarding the use of playback tapes to entice or elicit a response from birds in the wild, there are two Refuge regulations that apply here; 50 CFR 27.51 prohibits disturbing and attempting to disturb wildlife on any National Wildlife Refuge; in addition, 50 CFR 27.72 prohibits “the operation or use of audio devices including radios, recording and playback devices, as to cause unreasonable disturbance to others in the vicinity.” Use of audio devices to lure birds would violate at least one if not both of these regulations. We discourage the use of playback tapes at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR for the purpose of getting birds to respond since it can be disturbing to wildlife and other visitors and would be difficult if not impossible to avoid violating Refuge regulations in doing so.

Drones are Not Allowed on the Refuge

The launching, landing, or operating of any aircraft which includes unmanned aircraft (drones) from or on lands and waters administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is prohibited, as stated by 50 CFR 27.34.  

Illegal Photography

Although wildlife and nature photography is welcomed and encouraged at the refuge, the use of props (such as bringing chairs, ribbons, confetti, balloons, etc. for photographic effects), leaving trails into off-limits areas to take photos and/or closing trails for photography is prohibited.

Feeding of Wildlife is Prohibited