Rules and Regulations

Vibrant pink and orange sunset reflected over the calm water of Rice Lake

To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-FWS-TIPS (844-397-8477) or the Federal Wildlife Officer at 612-283-8963

Welcome to your national wildlife refuge! Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, cross-country ski, snowshoe and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. Please consult the Refuge Manager at 218-768-2402 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, including parking lots, is open from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations. The refuge is not open to the public for nighttime access, including stargazing and northern lights viewing.

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.
  • Watercraft use except in designated areas. See the fishing brochure.
  • Fires (including cooking fires), camping and overnight parking.
  • 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, geo-caching items, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Commercial still photography does not require a special use permit, provided it lacks sets, props and models and images are not used for promotional purposes. Refuge regulations must be followed while conducting commercial still photography and public spaces cannot be blocked. See the Refuge Specific Regulations section below for details.
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.


  • Hunting is an approved use on the refuge. See the hunting brochure for the species, method of take and additional requirements.
  • Small game hunting is an approved use on the refuge. 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.

Rice Lake Hunting Brochure


  • Trapping is an approved use on the refuge by special use permit only. Limited trapping opportunities may exist for management purposes. Contact the refuge office at 218-768-2402 for application information.


  • Fishing is an approved use on the refuge. See the fishing brochure for additional regulations and designated areas open to fishing.
  • We prohibit watercraft use except in designated areas. See the fishing brochure.
  • We prohibit all types of motorized vehicles on frozen water bodies.

Rice Lake Fishing Brochure

Artificial Lights

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

Refuge Specific Regulations

  • Horses, dog sleds, skijoring, snowmobiles and all other off-highway vehicles (OHV) are prohibited, including on the Wildlife Drive.
  • Hunting firearms and bows are not permitted in closed areas and no hunting zones.
  • Refuge is open to woodcock and snipe only for migratory bird hunting. No waterfowl hunting.
  • Boats without motors or boats with electric motors are permitted on all fishing areas.
  • Commercial still photography is allowed and does not require a special use permit. Refuge regulations must be followed and sets and props, promotion and blocking public spaces are not permitted.
    • Sets and props include, but are not limited to: backdrops, lighting banks, horses, camping equipment, campfires, couches, and so forth, when used to stage a specific scene.
    • The use of a camera on a tripod, without the use of any other equipment, is not considered a prop.
    • Images captured at the refuge, including wedding and senior photos, cannot be used on business cards, brochures, websites, social media or displays.

Additional Information

  • The information above is a partial list of rules and regulations. Consult the Rice Lake Hiking, Fishing and Hunting brochures for 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 218-768-2402.