Laws and Regulations

Beginning August 15, 2021, anyone who wishes to solicit or conduct commercial activities, including, but not limited to, horseshoe crab harvesting within the boundaries of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) must apply for a Special Use Permit (SUP) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A Special Use Permit (SUP) is required for commercial recreational activities in refuge waters. If you are not sure whether you need a SUP, please call the refuge headquarters office at (843) 928-3264.

If a SUP is issued, the permittee must comply with all special conditions attached to that SUP.

Reminder: The entire Refuge is closed from sunset to sunrise, and specific areas within the Refuge are subject to periodic closures.  These closures take precedence over any authorization contained in a SUP.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits under various wildlife law and treaties at a number of offices throughout the country.  Permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would otherwise be prohibited by law.  Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife.  Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activates to go forward.
Permits are handled by permitting programs in International Affairs (Management Authority), Endangered Species, Law Enforcement, and  Migratory Birds.

All state and federal regulations apply on the Refuge.

General regulations specific to Cape Romain NWR include the following:

  • The refuge is open during daylight hours only, from sunrise to sunset.
  • Marsh Island and White Banks Islands are closed to protect nesting birds from  February 15 - September 15.
  • Entering any area posted with area closed signs is prohibited.
  • Camping is prohibited. Camping facilities are located nearby on the Francis Marion National Forest. Call the Sewee Center at (843) 928-3368 or Francis Marion NF at (843) 336-2200.
  • Shell collectors are allowed to take one small bag of unoccupied shells. Collection of shells for commercial purposes is prohibited.
  • Bicycles are only allowed on the service roads on Bulls Island. Riding bicycles on the beach or on designated hiking trails is prohibited.
  • Fishing from or into the service area docking facilities on Bulls Island is prohibited.
  • Pets are not allowed on refuge islands or on the pier at Garris Landing. Pets are allowed on boats in refuge waterways.

 

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act provides for protection of archaeological resources and sites on public and Tribal lands and for increased cooperation between government authorities, the professional archaeological community, and private collectors with collections obtained before...

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d), enacted in 1940, and amended several times since, prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from "taking" bald or golden eagles, including their parts (including feathers), nests, or eggs....

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act provides a Federal grant program for the acquisition, restoration, management, and enhancement of coastal wetlands of States adjacent to the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, and the Pacific, including Puerto Rico, the U.S....

The Emergency Wetlands Resources Act provides for the collection of entrance fees, thirty percent of which may be used for refuge operations and maintenance, and for the Secretary of the Interior to establish and periodically review a national wetlands priority conservation plan for Federal and...

The Endangered Species Act establishes protections for fish, wildlife, and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered; provides for adding species to and removing them from the list of threatened and endangered species, and for preparing and implementing plans for their recovery;...

Through this Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), Congress authorized Federal collection of fees for recreational use of public lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest...

Section 404 (m) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) authorizes the Service to comment on permit applications submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters of the United States. Section 208(i) authorizes...

The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 establishes a comprehensive national fish and wildlife policy and authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to take steps required for the development, management, advancement, conservation, and protection of fisheries resources and wildlife resources through...

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to undertake research and conservation activities, in coordination with other Federal, State, international and private organizations, to fulfill responsibilities to conserve migratory nongame birds under existing...

The Marine Mammal Protection Act establishes a moratorium on taking and importing marine mammals, including parts and products. Defines the Federal responsibility for conservation of marine mammals, with management authority vested in the Department for the sea otter, walrus, polar bear, dugong...

The Migratory Bird Conservation Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct investigations and publish documents related to North American birds, and establishes a Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC) to approve areas recommended by the Secretary for acquisition. The MBCC...

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-712) implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada in 1916, Mexico in 1936, Japan in 1972, and Russia in 1976. It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory...

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) provides that the Service examine the environmental impacts, incorporate environmental information, and use public participation in the planning and implementation of all actions; integrate NEPA with other planning requirements; prepare NEPA...

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 directs Federal agencies to preserve, restore, and maintain historic cultural environments.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act provides authority, guidelines and directives for the Service to improve the National Wildlife Refuge System; administers a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and restoration of fish, wildlife and plant...

The National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act authorizes cooperative agreements with nonprofit partner organizations, academic institutions, or State and local governments to construct, operate, maintain, or improve refuge facilities and services, and to promote volunteer, outreach, and...

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act authorizes grants for the conservation of neotropical migratory birds in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, with 75 percent of the amounts made available to be expended on projects outside the United States. The funds are to be...

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act authorizes grants to public-private partnerships in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. to protect, enhance, restore, and manage waterfowl, other migratory birds and other fish and wildlife, and the wetland ecosystems and other habitats upon which they depend...

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act provides for the restoration, enhancement, and management of fish and wildlife habitats on private land through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, a program that works with private landowners to conduct cost-effective habitat projects for the...

The Refuge Recreation Act of 1962, with subsequent amendments, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to administer refuges, hatcheries and other conservation areas for recreational use, when such uses do not interfere with the primary purpose for which these areas were established.

Directs Federal agencies taking actions that may have measurable negative impacts on migratory bird populations to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the Service to promote conservation of migratory bird populations and directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish a multi-...

Spells out wildlife conservation as the fundamental mission of the Refuge System; requires comprehensive conservation planning to guide management of the Refuge System; directs the involvement of private citizens in land management decisions; and provides that compatible wildlife-dependent...

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. 

Launching, landing or disturbing wildlife by aircraft (drones) on national wildlife refuges is prohibited. Drone operators should not rely solely on applications such as AirMap, DJI Go or B4UFly to determine if a location is legal for drone use. Such applications do not always capture accurate...

To comply with the January 2021 Price v. Barr decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which determined that the permit and fee requirements for commercial filming are unconstitutional, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has...

Freedom of Information Act is a congressionally mandated program that promotes government transparency and accountability to the American people. Through the FOIA program government agencies are obligated to release government documents, files and records to a requestor. The FOIA Office is...

Most national wildlife refuges are open to the public. Even at a refuge open to the public, however, some parts of the refuge may be off limits seasonally or year-round to avoid disturbance to wildlife or habitat. Visitors must follow refuge entrance rules regarding fees, permits and areas open/...

Unconfined domestic animals — including dogs, hogs, cats, horses, sheep and cattle — are not permitted to enter or roam at large at any national wildlife refuge, except as specifically authorized. Some refuges do not permit pets on leashes. Check refuge rules before you visit.

The adage "look, but don't touch" applies to many aspects of visiting a national wildlife refuge. Visitors may not take any animal or plants, except as authorized. Visitors may not disturb, injure, spear, poison, destroy, collect or attempt to disturb, injure, spear, poison, destroy or collect...

Any act of indecency or disorderly conduct as defined by state or local laws is prohibited on any national wildlife refuge. Disturbing, molesting or interfering with any employee of the United States or of any local or state government engaged in official business, or with any private...

All visitors must comply with national wildlife refuge rules, regulations, posted signs and special regulations or be subject to penalty.

Motor vehicle drivers must stay on designated routes, as indicated by traffic signs or signals, and in designated areas posted or delineated on maps by the refuge manager. Generally speaking, motor vehicle operation is governed by the laws and regulations of the state in which the national...

Boat operators must stay on designated routes, as indicated by signs or signals, and in designated areas posted or delineated on maps by the refuge manager. Generally speaking, boat operation is governed by the laws and regulations of the state in which the national wildlife refuge is located....

No unauthorized person shall use or direct the rays of a spotlight or other artificial light, or automotive headlights, for the purpose of spotting, locating or taking any animal within a national wildlife refuge or along rights-of-way for public or private roads within a national wildlife...

Being on a national wildlife refuge when under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, to a degree that may endanger oneself or other persons or property or unreasonably annoy persons, is prohibited. Delivery of a controlled substance is prohibited, except when being...

National wildlife refuge visitors are prohibited from: setting on fire or causing to be set on fire any timber, brush, grass or other inflammable material, except as authorized by the refuge manager at designated locations; leaving a fire unattended or not completely extinguished; throwing a...

Without exception, national wildlife refuges follow state and federal fishing regulations, including license requirements. Refuge fishing programs change frequently. Before fishing at a refuge, always check with the refuge staff regarding species, season dates, other regulations, special...

Hunting on a national wildlife refuge is subject to current federal and state regulations. Consult those regulations before hunting. All hunters must possess a valid state hunting license. All hunters 16 years or older must possess a Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp while hunting migratory waterfowl...

The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and authorizes Congress to designate wilderness areas. Here, in the Wilderness Act, is a definition of wilderness: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is...

The National Invasive Species Act of 1996 amends the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 to mandate regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes through ballast water.

The Clean Air Act calls for states and EPA to solve multiple air pollution problems through programs based on the latest science and technology information. The Act calls for state, local, tribal and federal governments to work in partnership to clean the air.