Facility Rules and Policies

Welcome to your national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
. Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. For more information, please contact the refuge office at 618-634-2231.

Access to the refuge is open from 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations. 

General Restrictions

We prohibit

  • Target shooting
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash
  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land (including on frozen bodies of water) except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads
  • Watercraft with motors greater than 10 horsepower
  • Camping, open fires and overnight parking
  • Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving any personal property. All property brought onto a refuge must be removed at the end of each day. This includes all common items like vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras, blinds, geo-caching items, photography equipment, portable stands, climbing sticks, ice fishing shelters and trash. 
  • Destructing, defacing, disturbing or unauthorized removal of any natural object, artifact, cultural resource or government property
  • Introducing, liberating or placing plants or animals or their parts taken elsewhere on refuge lands or waters
  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood or other debris
  • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation
  • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (drones) on the refuge. This includes for recreational or commercial purposes. 
  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited
  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages on the refuge is prohibited

Printable Hunt Brochure

  • If hunting is an approved use on the refuge that activity may have additional requirements than state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc.
  • If small game hunting is an approved use on the refuge then hunters using shotguns, including turkey hunters, are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot
  • During the small game and migratory bird seasons, hunting dogs must be under the immediate control of the hunter
  • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange or pink consistent with state regulations
  • We prohibit constructing or occupying permanent stands or blinds. We also prohibit the use of nails, wire, screws or bolts to attach a stand to a tree or hunting from a tree, into which a metal object has been driven to support a hunter. Portable hunting stands must be set up and removed each day. 
  • We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting
  • We prohibit distribution of feed or bait or hunting over bait. This includes salts and minerals. 

Refuge-specific Hunting Regulations

  • Hunting is permitted only in designated areas shown on map
  • Only portable deer stands or blinds may be used. All tree stands, blinds and personal property must be removed from the refuge by the end of each day’s hunt.
  • Pits and permanent blinds are not permitted on the refuge. Only portable blinds or structures constructed of artificial camouflage (use of vegetation is prohibited) are permitted for waterfowl hunting. Blinds must be removed or dismantled at the end of each day’s hunt. Cutting of any vegetation on the refuge is prohibited.
  • Hunting with recognized pointer / retriever dogs during migratory bird seasons, recognized rabbit and squirrel dogs during the rabbit and squirrel season and trailing hounds during designated raccoon / opossum season is permissible. Deer hunting with dogs on the refuge is prohibited.
  • We prohibit the use of “deer drives” for the taking or attempting to take deer. We define a “deer drive” as a hunter(s) moving through an area with the intent of displacing one or more deer in the direction of another hunter(s).
  • Dog training is prohibited

Furbearer Hunting 

  • Hunting regulations are in accordance with state regulations. Please refer to Illinois Department of Natural Resources hunting information guide.
  • Refuge hunting seasons and hours for (raccoon, opossum, coyote, red and grey fox) are in accordance with Illinois Department of Natural Resources hunting regulations - All state regulations apply. For a digest of state regulations, please visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources publications page.
  • Trapping occurs on this refuge
  • Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. 

Fishing is an approved use on the refuge that activity may have additional requirements than state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc. See refuge specific regulations below:

  • Non-motorized/motorized (10 hp limit) watercraft use is allowed
  • We prohibit all types of motorized vehicles on frozen water bodies
Artificial Lights

You may not use a spotlight, headlight or artificial light to spot, locate or take any wild animal on the refuge except that a spotlight may be used to locate and take furbearer species during a furbearer hunting season.

Closed Areas

A variety of wildlife dependent activities are permitted on 15,676 acres of the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. However, there are two areas closed to public access:

  • Bellrose Waterfowl Reserve - this area is managed during the year as a resting and feeding area for migratory waterfowl and other water birds. In order to minimize disturbance, the area is closed to the public.
  • Wood Duck Slough - this area was closed January 2020 due to lack of a public access point; refuge management will open the property once a safe access point can be secured.

Please contact the refuge office for more information about wildlife dependent recreation opportunities on the refuge.