Rules and Regulations

blue goose symbol

Biologist and author Rachel Carson urged the public to watch for "the sign of the flying goose - the emblem of the National Wildlife Refuge System...

Wherever you meet this sign, respect it.  It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization."

There are lots of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the Refuge.  Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn’t help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably rules governing this activity.  Please check with Refuge management before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself.  There are plenty of activities at Waubay for you to enjoy.  Be safe and have fun! 

The Refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset.  The Visitor Center is open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday except during Federal holidays.

Access and Parking - Motorized vehicles are permitted only on developed roads and parking areas.  Driving off-road or on roads closed by signs or barriers is prohibited.  Parking in front of gates, driveways, or buildings where not specifically marked otherwise is also prohibited.

Hunting - Hunting is permitted on the Refuge except for the area where Headquarters is located.  The hunting program is managed in accordance with Federal and State regulations.  Only deer may be hunted on Waubay NWR.  Refuge specific regulations also apply, and can be found at this link or at the Visitor Center and kiosks.   

Firearms - 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).  Discharge of a firearm for any reason other than the legal taking of game animals is prohibited.

Fishing - Only ice fishing is permitted on the Refuge.  Walk in ice fishing occurs as soon as safe ice forms after the last Refuge deer hunting season until ice out.  No motorized vehicles are allowed.  The fishing program is managed in accordance with Federal and State regulations.  Current Refuge specific regulations can be found at this link: 2019-2020 ice fishing regulations or at the Visitor Center and kiosks.

Boating - The use of boats and canoes is not allowed on the Refuge except for limited use during the deer hunting season.  See the current hunting regulations for more information.

Hiking - Hiking is only allowed on designated trails.

Bicycling - Bicycling is permitted on the Refuge, but is restricted to established roads.  Bicycles are prohibited on all hiking trails.

Horseback Riding - Horseback riding is not permitted.

Camping - Overnight camping is not permitted.  All visitors must leave the Refuge at the end of each day.

Fires - No fires of any type are permitted within the Refuge.

Picnicking - Picnicking is allowed at tables located at the start of the boardwalk.  No fires or grills are allowed.  Please dispose of all trash properly.

Pets - Dogs and other pets must be leashed and under control at all times.  

Law Enforcement

Certain regulations are necessary for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and for the safety of visitors. Observance of these rules will help make the Refuge a better place for visitors and the wildlife they come to enjoy. The Wildlife Refuge Manager reserves the right to close all or part of the Refuge to hunting and/or public access at any time. Specific regulations will be posted. The Refuge is also subject to Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.

Regulatory Signs

Please obey the following signs you may encounter at Waubay.
Refuge boundary sign
Vehicle, foot, or other travel beyond this sign is prohibited except during hunting seasons with a license.
Area Closed sign
No hunting is allowed in the area beyond this sign.
Additional information regarding hunting and fishing on the Refuge can be found on Visitor Activities