Rules and Regulations

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

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 call the refuge at 763-389-3323 if you have any questions. We may post additional site-specific regulations.

General Restrictions

Access to the refuge, including parking lots, is open from 1/2 hour before sunrise until 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 or any non-hunting discharge of firearms.
  • 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 public use and hunting brochures.
  • 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 by 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. The refuge is open to mushroom, berry and nut collection, for personal consumption only, within 100 feet of trails or public rights of way.
  • 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 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.
  • Use or possession of alcohol by minors 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.

Hunting Brochure


  • Trapping is an approved use on the refuge by special use permit only. Limited trapping opportunities may exist for management purposes. Contact Refuge Headquarters at 763-389-3323 for application information.


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

Public Use 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

  • The majority of the refuge is designated a wildlife sanctuary and is closed to all public access from March 1 to August 31 to allow wildlife to breed and raise their young, free from human disturbance. During this time, the only areas available for public use are the Wildlife Drive, hiking trails, the designated canoe route and fishing access points.
  • Entering or remaining on the refuge outside of open refuge hours is prohibited. If hunting, you must call and/or leave a message with the Federal Wildlife Officer to remain after closing hours to retrieve or track wounded game.
  • Horses, dog sleds, skijoring, snowmobiles and all other off-highway vehicles (OHV) are prohibited, including on the Wildlife Drive.
  • Searching for and removal of any natural or cultural items, including shed antlers, stones, plants and animals is prohibited.
  • Hunting firearms and bows are not permitted in closed areas and no hunting zones.
  • Shooting on, from, over, across or within 30 feet (9 meters) of a roadway open to public vehicle transportation at a big game animal or a decoy of a big game animal is prohibited.
  • Attempting to take game species in any area of the refuge that is not specifically open to that species as identified in the Hunting Brochure is prohibited.
  • During the statewide youth deer season in mid to late October, only hunt areas A and B are open.
  • Canoes, kayaks and rowboats are permitted only on the designated canoe route year-round and on Long Pool from September 1 to winter closure. The designated canoe route starts at Battle Brook, south of Little Elk Lake, and continues on the St. Francis River, south of Battle Brook. Motorized boats are prohibited, including electric trolling motors.
  • Use or possession of fireworks or explosives is prohibited.
  • 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 cannot be used to promote or sell a product or service. Photos taken on the refuge, including wedding and senior photos, cannot be used on business cards, brochures, websites, social media or displays.

Additional Information

  • This information above is a partial list of rules and regulations. Consult the Public Use Brochure for more details.
  • Special use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses upon approval of the Refuge Manager. Contact Refuge Headquarters for application information at 763-389-3323.