Facility Rules and Policies

Visitor Regulations

The refuge is open for public use from sunrise to sunset, except during hunting seasons when hunters are allowed 2 hours before sunrise and after sunset.

Foot travel is prohibited in the shop and residence areas and the railroad right-of-way year round. Foot traffic is prohibited in the East Unit from September 1 to November 30, except on the Auto Tour Route. Foot traffic is allowed on all other portions of the Refuge unless otherwise posted.

Motor vehicles, registered ATVs and OHVs, and bicycles are allowed only on the Auto Tour Route.

Parking is permitted in designated areas, pull-offs, and along the Auto Tour Route. Vehicles must not block traffic or gates, or disturb the soil.

Railroad lands within the Refuge boundary are managed as part of the Refuge. For visitor safety, walking, hunting, or driving along the railroad tracks or berm is prohibited.

Snowmobiles may not be operated on the Refuge.

Horseback riding is not allowed.

Boating is not allowed, except during the State fall waterfowl season, in areas open to waterfowl hunting. Boat motors are limited to a maximum of 25 horsepower.

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).

To lessen disturbance to wildlife, keep your distance when viewing or photographing them.

To protect wildlife and their young, dogs must be kept on leash from April 15 to August 15 on the entire refuge, and from September 1 through November 30 in the East Unit where walking is only allowed on the Auto Tour Route. All other times of the year, dogs must be under owner's control when not on leash.

Removing, harassing, injuring, disturbing, or destroying any animal or plant, except legal take of game in season, is prohibited.

Artifacts and historic items are protected by Federal law, and it is unlawful to search for or remove these objects on the Refuge.

Please do not litter. You are responsible to carry out all trash and dispose of it properly.

Overnight camping (including self-contained camper units) is not allowed. Public camping areas are available in Malta and at Nelson Reservoir.

If you observe a violation of Refuge regulations, please report it to a Refuge law enforcement officer, a Refuge staff member, or a State game warden.

Hunting Regulations

Hunting for dove, sandhill crave, upland game birds, and waterfowl, is permitted on select portions of Bowdoin NWR, as indicated on the map.

Non-toxic shot is required for all bird hunting on the Refuge.

The East Unit is closed to all migratory bird hunting. A late-season hunt for upland game birds opens December 1 and goes to the end of the State season.

Big game hunting is not allowed on the Refuge. Further, the Refuge may not be used to access adjoining land for big game hunting. Possession of a big game animal on the Refuge, other than while in transport on a public road is a violation. Using the Refuge to access adjoining land to retrieve a wounded big game animal is not allowed unless approved and accompanied by a Refuge employee or State game warden.

Fishing is not allowed on the Refuge.

All Refuge wildlife are protected, except those species for which hunting is specifically authorized.

Firearms are prohibited in closed areas. If you must retrieve a dead or injured game bird from a closed area, do not carry your firearm with you.

Shooting from roads is prohibited. Boating is allowed during the fall waterfowl hunting season, and only in areas open to waterfowl hunting. Boat motors are limited to 25 horsepower.

Hunters may not use air thrust boats.

Blinds, boats, decoys, other personal property, and any materials brought onto the area for blind constructions must be removed daily.

Please dispose of all waste when cleaning birds.

Commercial outfitting is not allowed on Bowdoin NWR, Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), or satellite refuges.