Rules and Regulations

Long meadow lake

To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-FWS-TIPS (844-397-8477)


Welcome to your National Wildlife Refuge. Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, bicycle, cross-country ski, and snowshoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. Please consult the Refuge Manager at 952-854-5900 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

Access to the refuge trails and lands are open from 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset unless otherwise posted. Do not enter areas signed as closed. For access information related to hunting, visit our hunting information web page.

We prohibit:

  • Target shooting.
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash.
  • 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. 
  • Drones (UAVs) taking off, landing, and/or flying on or over Refuge lands
  • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (includes drones) on the Refuge. This includes for recreational or commercial purposes.
  • Motorized watercraft are prohibited on all Waterfowl Production Areas and are restricted on most National Wildlife Refuges. Minnesota Valley NWR prohibits the use of motorized (gas or electric) boats. We allow non-motorized boats in areas open to waterfowl hunting during the waterfowl hunting seasons only.  
  • Camping, open fires, and overnight parking are prohibited.
  • 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, blinds, geocaching items, photography equipment (including trail cameras), portable stands, climbing equipment, ice fishing shelters, and trash.
  • Destructing, defacing, disturbing or unauthorized removal of any natural object, artifact, cultural resource, or government property.
  • Introducing, liberating, or placing plants or animals, or their parts, taken elsewhere on Refuge lands or waters.
  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood, or other debris.
  • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring, or removing vegetation.
  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit.
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.

Hunting

  • If hunting is an approved use on the Refuge that activity may have additional requirements than state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc. See refuge-specific regulations below.
  • If small game hunting is an approved use on the refuge then hunters using shotguns, including turkey hunters, are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot.
  • During the small game and migratory bird seasons, hunting dogs must be under the immediate control of the hunter.
  • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange/pink consistent with state regulations.
  • We prohibit constructing or occupying permanent stands or blinds. We also prohibit 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 must be set up and removed each day.
  • We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting.
  • We prohibit distribution of feed or bait, or hunting over bait. This includes salts and minerals.

Trapping

  • Trapping is by special use permit only, and may have additional requirements than state regulations. See refuge-specific regulations below.

Fishing

  • If fishing is an approved use on the Refuge that activity may have additional requirements than state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc... See Refuge-specific regulations below.
  • Non motorized/motorized Watercraft use is prohibited for fishing.
  • We prohibit all types of motorized vehicles on frozen water bodies.

Artificial Lights (Hunting)

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

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge-Specific Information

Hunting

  • See Refuge Hunting Brochure for specific season dates that differ for state seasons.  Please note: If an area or Refuge Unit is not listed or shown within this document, it is closed to hunting.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Training and allowing pets off leash are prohibited.
  • 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.
  • We prohibit the taking of any turtle, frog, leech, minnow, crayfish, and mussel (clam) species by any method on the Refuge.

Trapping

  • 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.

Additional information

The above information is a partial list of rules and regulations. Consult the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Hunting Brochure 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 952-854-5900.