Rules and Regulations


When in doubt about the legality or advisability of participating in any activity on a national wildlife refuge, visitors should contact the refuge prior to participating in such activities.


Refuge Regulations for Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge 

All local, State, and Federal regulations apply on the Refuge. Specific Refuge regulations are addressed in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations. In addition you are reminded of the following:   

  • The Refuge is open during daylight hours only (from 1/2-hour before sunrise to 1/2-hour after sunset).
  • Camping, open fires, feeding or baiting of wildlife, swimming in Refuge canals, or entering any area posted with area closed signs is prohibited.
  • All domestic pets must be properly confined, leashed (10-foot maximum) and under owner control at all times. On Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, pets are not allowed on the west side of NC Highway 12, except in areas adjacent to parking areas (not allowed on wildlife trails).
  • Horseback riding is not allowed.
  • Littering or dumping of garbage, refuse, sewage, debris, or other wastes or poisons is prohibited.
  • The use of a spotlight, automotive headlight, or other artificial light to spot, observe, locate, or take any animal on the Refuge is prohibited.
  • Taking, possessing, injuring, disturbing, damaging, destroying, or collecting any plant or animal (or attempting these actions) is prohibited.  However, collecting uninhabited seashells/wood on the beach is allowed as an exception to this regulation.  But remember, collecting or possessing any part of an Endangered/Threatened Species (ex. sea turtle bones/shells/scutes or marine mammal bones/teeth) or Migratory Bird (ex. bones/feathers) is prohibited.
  • Destroying, defacing, damaging, disturbing, or removing any private or public property, including any natural object or artifact, is prohibited. The use or possession of metal detectors or similar devices is prohibited. 
  • Disturbing, molesting, or interfering with any person engaged in an authorized activity is prohibited. Engaging in any act of indecency or disorderly conduct (as defined by State or local laws) is prohibited.
  • Entering or remaining on the Refuge when under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is prohibited.
  • Begging or soliciting in any form or conducting a commercial enterprise on the Refuge is prohibited.
  • Carrying, possessing, or discharging firearms, fireworks, or explosives is prohibited. Firearms may be possessed, used, or transported only by persons engaged in public hunting or by persons carrying unloaded firearms that are either dismantled or cased.
  • Carrying, using, or possessing cross bows, bows and arrows, air guns, spears, gigs, or other weapons is prohibited. 
  • Fishing is subject to State and local regulations, seasons, and bag limits. Only the use of pole and line, rod and reel, or cast net is permitted.
  • Hunting is not allowed on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Motor vehicles are restricted to NC Highway 12 and adjacent parking areas. State traffic laws that govern the use and operation of vehicles apply on the Refuge.
  • Traveling outside of designated routes of travel is prohibited. Designated routes of travel are shown on the Refuge maps or as posted with road closed, no vehicle, or foot traffic only signs.
  • Operating any vehicle or boat that does not bear valid license plates or identification numbers and that is not properly lighted, certified, registered, or inspected according to State laws is prohibited. ATV's (3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, dirt bikes, etc.) are prohibited.
  • Kiteboarding and the use of Personal Watercraft are prohibited.
  • Stopping or parking a vehicle (either attended or unattended) on a road, trail, or firelane such that it blocks the free movement of other vehicles is prohibited.
  • Carrying, using, or possessing paintball guns or paintball markers is prohibited.
  • Any act of indecency, public nudity or disorderly conduct is prohibited.


For details and/or definitions pertaining to any refuge regulation, please consult the refuge office.