Black-tailed jackrabbit/USFWS

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is it?  Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located about 10 miles northeast of Roswell, in Chaves County, New Mexico.

When was it established?  In 1937. 

How big is it?  24,536 acres. 

Why is it here?  The refuge was originally established to provide wintering habitat for migratory birds.  The refuge plays a crucial role in the conservation of wetlands in the desert Southwest.

What can I do there?  You can visit the refuge and learn about the wildlife it supports as well as enjoy wildlife-dependent activities like wildlife watching and photography, hiking on refuge trails, seasonal hunting, and special events hosted throughout the year.

Can I ride my bike?  Bike riding is permitted on the eight-mile gravel wildlife drive or the refuge's paved four mile (round trip) bike trail. 

Are horses/ATV’s/Off Road Vehicles on the refuge?  The refuge does not allow ATV’s or Off Road Vehicles.  The North Tract (12,160 acres) of the refuge, including the wilderness area, is open to horseback riding.

Is hunting allowed on the refuge?  Waterfowl, sandhill crane, quail, dove, pheasant, and deer hunting are available at the refuge.  Contact the refuge for updated hunting regulations and season dates at (575) 622-6755 or steve_alvarez@fws.gov.

Is fishing allowed on the refuge?  In order to protect the rare and endangered fish species found on Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, there is no fishing allowed on the refuge.

What do I need to bring?  You might need water, sunscreen, insect repellent (depending on the time of year), layered clothing, binoculars/spotting scopes, cameras, and field guides (especially for birds).

Are pets allowed?  Pets are allowed on the refuge but they must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not allowed in the Visitor Center and no pet is to be left unattended in a vehicle due to the temperature extremes.

Can I bring and release wildlife on the refuge?  Releasing any animal (wildlife or unwanted pets) on the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is illegal and subject to a fine.  We recommend you contact the State of New Mexico Department of Game and Fish office, located in Roswell, New Mexico, at (575) 624-6135. 

How can I get a job with the National Wildlife Refuge System?  All federal jobs, including those with Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, are announced and can be applied for at www.USAjobs.gov.

Did you know - Wild Facts?  Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge was originally designated the Carlsbad Bird Refuge in 1935.  Subsequently, the refuge’s namesake, Bitter Lake was labeled for a large playa which early explorers to the region deemed “bitter” because of its alkaline appearance.