Rules and Regulations

In order to protect the integrity of the refuge, there are certain rules and regulations that must be adhered to when visiting. There are multiple uses of the refuge. They include, but not limited to, activities such as hiking, bird watching, hunting, fishing and photography. Some activities may require permits.

There are many closed areas on the refuge. Please be aware of your location and obey all posted signs. As some areas are not posted, it is the visitors’ responsibility to know where they can and cannot go. You are visiting someone else’s home, so please remember:

  • The refuge is open from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • The Wildlife Drive is open from April 1 (weather-permitting) through November.  Walking on the Wildlife Drive is limited to May 25 through August 15 (pedestrian use/skiing/snow shoeing are not permitted when the Drive is closed).  Otherwise, you must remain in your vehicle until you reach designated viewing spots (marked with binocular sign). You must stay on the road/trail; do not walk on dikes, in the water, etc. Parking/leaving a parked vehicle along the Wildlife Drive is prohibited.  Parking is available at the refuge headquarters/visitor center area.
  • Bicycles are only permitted on the Wildlife Drive from May 25 - August 15 and are not permitted on the hiking trails.
  • Jogging/Running is not permitted anywhere on the refuge.
  • Dog-walking is allowed around the refuge headquarters and visitor center areas, as well as on the Seneca Trail. Dog-walking is prohibited along the Esker Brook and South Spring Pool Trails. Pets must be kept on the leash and under their owner’s control at all times. If you have dog in your vehicle while you are on the Wildlife Drive, your dog must remain in the vehicle.
  • Horseback riding is not permitted.
  • No off-road vehicles (ATV’s, dirt bikes, etc.) are allowed on refuge property.
  • Fishing is allowed from the fishing access area only. Fishing is not permitted in the refuge pools.
  • Boating in the refuge pools is not permitted. Boating is limited to surrounding public waterways, including but not limited to the Cayuga-Seneca Barge Canal, the Seneca River, and Cayuga Lake.
  • Hunting regulations are very specific for the refuge. Please visit Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and New York Department of Environmental Conservation websites or call for information. It is the hunter’s responsibility to be legally permitted on refuge areas open to hunting.

  • Drone use on national wildlife refuges is prohibited according to our Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50:
    § 27.34 Aircraft.
    The unauthorized operation of aircraft, including sail planes, and hang gliders, at altitudes resulting in harassment of wildlife, or the unauthorized landing or take-off on a national wildlife refuge, except in an emergency, is prohibited. National wildlife refuge boundaries are designated on update FAA aeronautical charts.
    In addition, it is also against regulations to take photographs for commercial use purposes:
    § 27.71 Motion or sound pictures. The taking or filming of any motion or sound pictures on a national wildlife refuge for subsequent commercial use is prohibited except as may be authorized under the provisions of 43 CFR part 5.

Contact Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters: 315-568-5987

All open areas are available to the general public approximately Dawn until Dusk, unless specified otherwise.

For general regulations related to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.