Laws and Regulations

In order to protect the integrity of refuge lands, there are regulations that must be adhered to when visiting. Activities not expressly allowed are prohibited. If you have any questions, please check with refuge staff by calling 575-835-1828 during business hours. For comprehensive regulations, please refer to the Code of Federal Regulations.  


  • We do not allow members of the public to enter closed areas. Please obey all area closed signs. 
  • We do not allow commercial activities without a valid special use permit issued by us.  
  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations. We do not allow the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon inside federal facilities unless specifically authorized 18 USC 930(a). Possession violations are subject to fine and or imprisonment up to one year, while 18 USC 930(b) possession violations with intent to commit a crime are punishable by a fine and imprisonment up to five years. 

Hunting, fishing and frogging 


  • We do not allow the driving of motor vehicles off-road. 
  • The maximum speed limit on the Auto Tour Route is 25 mph. 
  • We do not allow the use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs / ATVs / UTVs). 
  • We do not allow the stopping, parking, or leaving of any vehicle that would obstruct the free movement of other vehicles. 
  • We do not allow the use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or mechanical transport in wilderness. Please help us preserve wilderness character by practicing leave no trace principles. 
  • We do not allow vehicle operators to be under the influence of intoxicating beverages or controlled substances. 
  • We do not allow the unauthorized operation of aircraft at altitudes resulting in harassment of wildlife, or the unauthorized landing or take-off of aircraft on the refuge except in emergencies. 

Pets and other plants and animals 

  • We protect all plants, animals, animal parts, rocks, minerals, artifacts, and cultural features on the refuge, and it is illegal to damage or remove them; hunters and anglers may remove legally harvested animals. 
  • We only allow in-season hunting, fishing, and frogging for select species in designated hunting and fishing areas. We do not allow the take of any other wildlife. Obtain appropriate refuge-specific regulations for hunting and fishing from the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge website. 
  • We do not allow the release or introduction of any animal or plant including, but not limited to, wildlife or unwanted pets on the refuge.  
  • Horseback riding is only allowed on the East Side of the refuge in support of legal hunting in the hunt area. 
  • We do not allow the harassment or feeding of wildlife. 
  • We do not allow unauthorized grazing of livestock. 

Other Activities 

We do not allow: 
  • The abandoning of, discarding of, or otherwise leaving any personal property. 
  • Littering, disposing, or dumping of garbage or refuse. 
  • The draining or dumping of oil or any other type of chemical waste. 
  • The launching, landing or operation of unmanned aerial systems (drones). 
  • Boating, floating, swimming, water skiing, or wading in any arroyos, wetlands or water delivery ditches, canals, drains, or channels. 
  • Erecting of permanent structures such as blinds or pits. 
  • Open fires. 
  • Entering or remaining on the refuge when under the influence of alcohol to a degree that may endanger oneself, other persons or property or unreasonably annoy persons in the vicinity. 
  • Gambling in any form or the operation of gambling devices for money or otherwise. 
  • Begging or soliciting for funds. 
  • The disturbing, molesting, or interfering with any government employee engaged in official business. 
  • The disturbing, molesting, or interfering with any private person engaged in any authorized activity. 
  • The use of spotlights, automotive headlights or other artificial light for the purpose of spotting, locating, or taking any animal. 
  • The use of audio devices such as radios or playback devices that cause unreasonable disturbance to others.