Facility Rules and Policies
Know Before You Go
During the summer months a hat, sunscreen and bug repellent will make your visit a success. Biting insects are year round residents and especially plentiful during the summer months. Water is also extremely important; it is easy to become dehydrated while hiking and wildlife watching on the refuge. Pets are not permitted on the refuge at any time, with the exception of service dogs.
Fees and National Passport (Pass) Program
There is no entry fee required to visit Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.
All America the Beautiful passes, including the Annual, Senior, Access, Military and 4th Grade passes are available for purchase at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge visitor contact station from Monday through Friday, except for federal holidays, from 9am-1pm. The forms of payment accepted are cash or check. Exact change is appreciated.
Dogs are not allowed on Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge for the protection of wildlife and visitors alike. Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles or RVs.
Why Are Dogs Prohibited at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge?
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge prohibits dogs for several reasons:
- Dogs can carry disease into the refuge’s wildlife populations.
- Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, scaring birds and other animals away from nesting, feeding, and resting sites. The scent left behind by a dog can signal the presence of a predator, disrupting or altering the behavior of refuge wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.
- Dogs bark and disturb the quiet of the wilderness. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.
- Pets may become prey for larger predators such as coyotes and alligators. Dogs can also encounter insects and snakes that bite and plants that are poisonous or full of painful thorns and burrs.
- Many people, especially children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors.
Since I Can’t Have My Pet at the National Wildlife Refuge, Where Else Can I Go?
Some public lands outside Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge offer a wider range of recreational opportunities than are available here, including hiking with your pet. For maps and information about these recreation areas please contact the offices listed below. (By clicking on these links, you will leave Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge’s website.)
Service animals for persons with disabilities have traditionally been understood to be guide dogs for blind individuals and hearing assistance dogs for persons with hearing impairments. Since these animals provide service for persons with disabilities, they are not considered to be pets and, consequently, are not regulated as pets. Accordingly, they have been allowed to go into areas where pets are traditionally prohibited.
The 2010 revision to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a "service animal" as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.
Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely to provide comfort or emotional support ("therapy animals"), are considered pets.
Things to Know
Due to the concern for wildlife management issues, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge’s regulation allows the closing of an area to the use of service animals if it is determined that the service animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of people or wildlife. In determining whether a service animal poses a direct threat, individualized assessments based on current scientific knowledge or on the best available objective evidence to ascertain the nature, duration and severity of the risks have been taken into account and less restrictive measures will not suffice.