Rules and Regulations

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Wetland management districts contain lands in which the Fish and Wildlife Service holds an interest. This interest can be fee title ownership, as in the case of waterfowl production areas, or as an easement, in which certain rights that protect wetlands and prairie were purchased from interested private landowners.


Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) are small wetland or pothole areas, generally 40 to 3,000 acres, acquired with funds derived from the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Stamps. These areas are managed to preserve wetland habitat, to increase the production of waterfowl, to sustain native wildlife, and to benefit the public using these areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns the land and water on waterfowl production areas within the wetland management districts. These lands, identified with special green and white WPA signs, are generally open to public uses such as hunting, fishing, recreational trapping, hiking and bird watching. Detailed information regarding public use regulations on North Dakota WPAs can be found in our brochure, which can be requested by contacting us.

General Regulations:

  • All motorized vehicles, including ATVs and snowmobiles, are restricted to designated roads or parking areas.
  • Vehicles are allowed on the ice for fishing if there is access from a right-of-way or designated road.
  • Boats are allowed for wildlife-dependent activities; however, water depths generally limit use to shallow draft vessels.
  • Boats that must be launched from a trailer are limited to those waters that are accessible from a right-of-way or designated road.
  • Horses are not allowed for any purpose.
  • Commercial activities are not allowed unless authorized by a special use permit issued by the District manager.

Prohibited Activities: 

  • camping
  • fires
  • littering
  • removing or disturbing property, including artifacts
  • using or possessing alcoholic beverages
  • removing or destroying plants, excluding the gathering of dead plant material for on-site blind construction and seasonal collection of mature wild fruits, berries, and above-ground portions of recognized vegetable plants for personal daily use (not for commercial purposes).

Hunting Regulations (Unless otherwise noted, hunting is allowed in accordance with State regulations.):

  • Hunters may only possess approved non-toxic shot while in the field, except when hunting wild turkey or big game.
  • Portable tree stands and freestanding elevated platforms may be used in accordance with State regulations and left overnight.  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, is prohibited.
  • All personal property (excluding tree stands), including boats, decoys, portable blinds, and any materials brought onto the area for blind construction, must be removed at the end of each day. Blinds constructed of dead and down materials gathered on-site may be left throughout the hunting season.
  • Dogs are allowed only for hunting.
  • The distribution of bait and hunting over bait is prohibited.
  • Trapping is allowed in accordance with Federal and State regulations.
  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32).

Fishing Regulations (Unless otherwise noted, fishing is allowed in accordance with State regulations.):

  • Fish houses may be used in accordance with State regulations and may be left on the ice overnight.
  • Fish houses may not be left unattended on uplands or in parking areas.
  • Boats, motor vehicles, fishing equipment, and other personal property (excluding fish houses) must be removed at the end of each day.