Rules and Regulations

officer with trotline

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Rules and Regulations


To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-NWR-TIPS (844-697-8477)

 

Welcome e to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Our lands are a host to a multitude of wonderful recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, photography, boating, wildlife observation, picnicking, and more.Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family.  Please consult the Refuge Manager at 618-997-3344 if you have questions.  We may post additional site-specific regulations.  

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.

General Restrictions

We prohibit:

  • Target shooting.

  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land (to include on frozen bodies of water) except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads.

  • We prohibit parking beyond vehicle control barriers or on grass or other vegetation.

  • Use or possession of fireworks or explosives is not allowed on the refuge.

  •  Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving any personal property.  All property brought onto a refuge must be removed at the end of each day.  This includes all common items like vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras, blind, photography equipment, portable stands, climbing sticks, ice fishing shelters and trash.

  • Destructing, defacing, disturbing or unauthorized removal of any natural object, artifact, cultural resource or government property.

  • We prohibit the use of metal detectors.

  • We prohibit the collecting of shed deer antlers.

  • Introducing, liberating, or placing plants or animals or their parts taken elsewhere on refuge lands or waters. (Special Use Permit is required)

  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood or other debris.

  • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation.

  • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (drones) on the refuge.  This includes for recreational or commercial purposes.

  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit.

  • Group events are prohibited. (Special Use Permit is required)

  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.

Hunting

  • See refuge specific regulations below.

Trapping

  •  Trapping on the refuge requires a Special Use Permit authorized by the refuge manager.

Fishing

  • See refuge specific regulations below.

Artificial Lights

  • You may not use a spotlight, headlight or other artificial light to spot, locate or take any wild animal in a refuge.

Crab Orchard  National Wildlife Refuge Specific Regulations

Permits

The Refuge General Hunt Permit on the front of this brochure must be signed and in the hunter’s possession while hunting on the refuge. Hunters must possess all State required licenses, stamps and permits for the species hunted.

Ammunition

The possession of lead shot is prohibited refuge wide, except:

  • During deer hunts, lead ammunition legal for taking deer may be used. 

  • Small game and furbearers may be hunted with .22 and .17 caliber rimfire lead ammunition during open season.

Firearms

Firearms must comply with Illinois Concealed Carry and transportation laws. We prohibit the discharging of firearms (including dog training pistols and dummy launchers), air guns, or any

other weapons on the refuge, except by licensed hunters or trappers engaged in authorized activities during established seasons, in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.

Crab Orchard Specific Hunting Regulations

  • Hunting is prohibited within 50 yards of all designated public use facilities areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, marinas, boat ramps, public roads and established hiking trails listed in the refuge trail brochure.

  • State season and bag limits apply unless otherwise specified.

  • Only Illinois legal game species may be taken in the Open Area of the refuge during the state season. All other animals are protected.

  • Possession and use of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.

  • Hunting is prohibited in areas closed to hunting as indicated on the accompanying map or as otherwise posted.

  • Marking trails with paint, flagging, reflectors, tacks or other manmade materials is prohibited.

  • The construction of permanent hunting blinds is prohibited.

  • Youth hunters under the age of 16 must be supervised by an adult not less than 21 years old and must remain in sight and normal voice contact with the adult. Hunters born on or after January 1, 1980, must show proof that they have successfully completed a Hunter Education Course.

Migratory Game Bird Hunting

Hunters may hunt migratory birds on designated open areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations,subject to the following conditions:

  • Waterfowl hunting is not allowed in the restricted use area of Crab Orchard Lake.

  • Waterfowl hunting blinds must be a minimum of 200 yards apart.

  • Boat blinds must be anchored on shore or anchored a minimum of 200 yards away from any shoreline.

  • Waterfowl hunters may also hunt on the eastern shoreline in Grassy Bay.

Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area

  • Waterfowl hunters must attend a special drawing the day of the hunt prior to hunting in this area.

  • All hunters must report their harvest at the end of each day’s hunt.

  • Hunters must hunt from assigned refuge blinds or markers. Water blind hunters are permitted to hunt from a boat immediately adjacent to their blind/marker.

  • Waterfowl hunting is permitted one-half (1/2) hour before official sunrise to posted closing times.

Upland Game Hunting

Hunters may hunt upland game on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations, subject to the following conditions:

  • The use of rifles or handguns with ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire are prohibited.

  • The use of black powder firearms up to, and including, .40 caliber are permitted.

  • Hunters must possess and use only nontoxic shot.

  • The use of .22 and .17 caliber rimfire lead ammunition for the taking of small game and furbearers is allowed during State season.

  • Upland game hunting is prohibited within 50 yards of all designated public use facilities, including, but not limited to parking areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, marinas, boat ramps, public roads and established hiking trails listed in the refuge trails brochure.

Big Game Hunting

Hunters may hunt white-tailed deer and turkey on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations subject to the following conditions:

  • Restricted Use Area deer and turkey hunters are required to check in at the Visitor Center prior to hunting.

  • Handguns for the taking of deer in the Restricted Use Area are prohibited.

  • Deer drives for the taking or attempting to take deer are prohibited.

  • Firearm deer hunting is prohibited in the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting, Cambria and Group Hunting Areas. (See Map)

  • Deer hunting is prohibited within 50 yards of all designated public use facilities, including, but not limited to, parking areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, marinas, boat ramps, public roads and established hiking trails listed in the refuge trails brochure.

  • Hunting stands and blinds must be removed at the end of each day’s hunt.

  • Turkey hunters may only use and possess non-toxic lead-free shot.

Crab Orchard Specific Fishing Regulations

Sport fishing is permitted in accordance with all applicable State regulations and subject to the following special conditions:

All Refuge Waters:

  • Organizers of all fishing events must possess a refuge issued permit. To obtain permit call (618) 997-3344 ext. 334.

  • Anglers may not submerge any pole or similar object to take or locate any fish.

  • Using jugs or flotation devices that have previously contained any petroleum based or toxic substances is prohibited.

  • Anglers may not fish within 250 yards of an occupied waterfowl hunting blind. 

Crab Orchard Lake

West of Wolf Creek Road:

  • Fishing from boats is permitted day and night year‑round.

  • Tot lines/jugs must be removed from legal sunrise until legal sunset from the Friday immediately prior to Memorial Day through Labor Day.  

East of Wolf Creek Road:

  • Fishing from boats is permitted only from March 15 through September 30.

  • Fishing from the bank is permitted year‑round, but only at the Wolf Creek and Route 148  causeways.

Little Grassy and Devils Kitchen Lakes: 

  • The use of trot lines or jugs are prohibited.

  • Use of boat motors of more that 10h.p. is prohibited.

  • Gas motors are prohibited in the southeastern section of Devils Kitchen Lake. (See Lake Zoning Map)

Designated Ponds within the Restricted  Area:

Fishing is only permitted at A-41, Bluegill, Managers, Honkers and Visitors Ponds within the Restricted Area of the Refuge.

  • These ponds are open from sunrise to sunset March 15 through September 30.

  • No boats are allowed.

Recreation Use Fee Program

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge has entrance and lake use fees. All vehicles entering and vessels using Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge are required to have a pass.

Bicycles

Bicycling is permitted only on roads open to motorized vehicles and trails established especially for bicycles

Camping

We allow camping only in established campgrounds and group camps subject to the following conditions:

  • We define “camping” as:  Erecting a tent or shelter of natural or synthetic material,  preparing a sleeping bag or other bedding material, or parking of a motor vehicle for the apparent purpose of overnight occupancy.

  • We prohibit camping at any one campground for a period longer than 14 days during any 16- consecutive –day period.  After 14 days, you must remove all personal property, and equipment form the campground for a minimum of 48 hours.

Campfires

Are allowed only in designated picnicking and camping areas where controlled structures are provided subject to the following conditions:

  • You may only use dead wood on the ground, or materials brought into the refuge such as charcoal or firewood. You must remove any unused firewood brought into the refuge upon departure due to the threat of invasive insects.

  • We prohibit burning or attempting to burn any nonflammable materials or any materials that may produce toxic fumes or leave hazardous waste. These materials include, but are not limited to, metal cans, plastic containers, glass, fiberglass, treated wood products, wood containing nails or staples, wire, flotation materials, or other refuse.

Collecting Wild Foods

Fruits, nuts, berries and fruiting bodies of mushrooms may be gathered by hand for personal use for consumption. We limit the amount you may collect to 1 gallon by volume per person, per day. Commercial use of these products are prohibited.

Domestic Animals

We allow dogs and other domestic animals on the refuge subject to the following conditions:

  • We prohibit dogs disturbing or endangering wildlife or people while on the refuge.

  • While on the refuge, all dogs must be under the control of their owners/handlers at all times or on a leash.

  • We prohibit allowing dogs to roam.

  • All dogs must be on a leash when on hiking trails, or other areas so posted.

  • We allow working a dog in refuge waters by tossing a retrieval dummy or other object for out-and-back exercise.

  • We encourage the use of dogs for hunting, but we prohibit field trials and commercial/professional dog training.

  • Owners/handlers of dogs are responsible for disposal of dog droppings in refuge public use concentration areas such as trails, campgrounds, beaches, and boat landings.

  • We allow horseback riding on public roads, the River to River and Pleasant Hill Trails. Horseback riding is prohibited on the River to River and Pleasant Hill Trails from November 1 to April 30.

  • We prohibit all other domestic animals on the refuge unless confined in a vehicle, boat, trailer, kennel, or other container.

Rock Climbing

Rappelling, free-style and technical rock climbing is prohibited.

Swimming

We allowed swimming on Crab Orchard Lake and Little Grassy Lake subject to the following conditions:

  • Swimming is prohibited in the restricted areas of Crab Orchard Lake

  • Swimming is prohibited in the marina areas, within 100 feet of boat ramps, spillways, causeways, and dams on Crab Orchard and Little Grassy Lakes.

  • Swimming is prohibited in Devils Kitchen Lake.

  • Public nudity and SCUBA diving are prohibited.

Watercraft

We allow the use of watercraft of all types and means on waters of the refuge as governed by State regulations subject to the following conditions:

  • We restrict motorboats on all refuge waters to slow speeds leaving “no wake” within 150 feet (45 meters) of any shoreline, swimming area, marina entrance, boat ramp, causeway tunnel, and areas indicated on the lake zoning map in the refuge fishing brochure.

  • We prohibit the use of boat motors of more than 10 horsepower on Devils Kitchen and Little Grassy Lakes.

  • We prohibit watercraft east of Wolf Creek Causeway on Crab Orchard Lake from October 1 to March 15.

  • We prohibit the use of gas-powered motors in the southeastern section of Devils Kitchen Lake (consult lake zoning map in the refuge recreation brochure).

Water-skiing

  • We allow water-skiing on the main body of Crab Orchard Lake west of Highway 148.

  • We prohibited water-skiing in Grassy Bay, Devils Kitchen Lake and Little Grassy Lake (consult lake zoning map in the refuge recreation brochure).

Additional Information

 

  • The above information is a partial list of rules and regulations.  Consult the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Hunting and Public Use Regulations for more details. 

  • Special-use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses upon approval of the refuge manager.  Contact the refuge office for application information at 618-997-3344.