Rules and Regulations

Officer Explaining Rules and Regulations

Refuge lands are accessible year round from sunrise to sunset.  Acceptable outdoor uses include: hunting, fishing, nature photography, wildlife observation, environmental education, and interpretation.  Make sure to observe all Refuge regulations, posted refuge boundary signs, no hunting zones, and closed areas.

Portions of the Refuge are open to fishing and hunting of specific species.  In designated areas Minnesota state regulations and refuge specific regulations will be enforced.  Please note: Refuge specific regulations supersede state regulations.  For additional information, download the Refuge Hunting Brochure, which is also available at both education and visitor centers and outdoor hunter kiosks.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge encourages deer hunters to use lead free ammunition. Wildlife protection is a core value that is shared by hunters and the Fish and Wildlife Service and it is within our control to eliminate potential hazards to wildlife on our National Wildlife Refuges. Hunters can help keep eagles and other wildlife healthy by ensuring no lead is left behind after the hunt. To learn more about lead free ammunition visit

Follow these general rules for recreational activities on refuge lands.  Please recognize and respect the rights of other refuge users and neighbors.

These activities are PERMITTED on the Refuge:

• Environmental education and interpretation, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, wildlife observation, and nature photography. 
• Biking on designated trails.
• Shore and ice fishing on most refuge waters according to state and refuge-specific regulations.
• Hunting in areas designated by Refuge Manager according to state and refuge-specific regulations.
• Berry, mushroom, and nut picking (not more than one gallon per family, for personal consumption).

These activities are PROHIBITED on the Refuge:

• Use of motor vehicles unless authorized by the Refuge Manager.

• Use drones for recreational or commercial purposes. Drones may not take off from or land on Refuge lands, or operate within airspace above the Refuge

• Commercial use, including but not limited to: charging fees for services or programs, operating concessions, and/or commercial videography or photography (including wedding or family photography) without a valid special use permit
• Snowmobiling and horseback riding. 
• Canoeing and boating on the Refuge except in designated areas during the hunting season. 
• Use or possession of firearms (including air and paintball guns) except during hunting season in designated areas.  
• Target shooting.
• Disturbing, Destroying, vandalizing, or removing property, including signs. 
• Camping or building fires. 
• Disposing of waste or abandoning of property. 
• Indecency or disorderly conduct. 
• Swimming. 
• Unleashed pets. 
• Artifact hunting, cultural site disturbance, digging, burying, or disturbing the soil. 
• Night time activities, unless authorized by the Refuge Manager.


Hunting and Trapping Regulations


- Small game hunters using shotguns, including turkey hunters, are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot. 

- Single projectile ammunition is prohibited on all refuge units except: 1) for upland game and furbearers, .22 caliber and smaller rim-fire rifles and handguns are allowed on Jessenland and Blakely units and 2) where firearms deer hunting is allowed, shotgun and muzzle- loading rifles are permitted. 

- Target shooting is prohibited. 

- The use of air guns is prohibited.

- We prohibit hunting on, from, across, or within 100 feet (30 m) of any road, parking area, or designated trail.

-Entry into the refuge earlier than 2 hours before legal shooting time is prohibited. Hunters must leave the refuge no later than 1 hour after legal shooting time. 

- You may only hunt coyotes, skunks, fox, opossum and raccoon from 1⁄2 hour before legal sunrise until legal sunset. (check Refuge Hunting Brochure for season dates that differ from state season)

- Some areas are posted as No Hunting Zones to protect buildings, private property or critical habitat areas. Firearms and weapons must be cased and unloaded while accessing hunting areas through No Hunting Zones. 

- Small game hunters must wear an article of blaze orange/pink consistent with state regulations. 

- The use of hunting dogs is allowed during the State- approved hunting season and for non-furbearers only, provided the dog is under the immediate control of the at all times. Training and allowing pets off leash are prohibited.

- Motorized vehicles are prohibited except on designated parking areas, access roads, and public roads. Permits to operate vehicles on other roads may be available for hunters with disabilities. Hunters may use bicycles and game carts on designated trails and service roads during the hunting seasons

- Motorized watercraft are prohibited on all WPAs and are restricted on most NWRs. We prohibit the use of motorized (gas or electric) boats. We allow non-motorized boats in areas open to waterfowl hunting during the waterfowl hunting seasons.

- Camping, campfires, and overnight parking are prohibited.

- No permanent stands are permitted. Also prohibited are the use of nails, wire, screws, or bolts to attach a stand to a tree or hunting from a tree, into which a metal object has been driven to support a hunter. Portable hunting stands and blinds MUST BE set up and removed each day. 

- All property brought onto a NWR or WPA must be removed after each day. This includes all vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras and trash. 

- The use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited. 

- The destruction, defacement, disturbance or unauthorized removal of any natural object or government property is prohibited. 

- Plants and animals cannot be introduced, liberated or placed on the refuge. 

- We prohibit the taking of any turtle, frog, leech, minnow, crayfish, and mussel (clam) species by any method on the refuge. 

- Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse rocks, wood or other debris is prohibited. 

- Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation is prohibited. 

- Distribution of feed or bait, or hunting over bait is prohibited. This includes salts and minerals. 


- Trapping on the refuge is by special use permit only.  The refuge currently only issues permits for nuisance beaver removal as needed for management purposes. Visit the Permits page for more information.