Laws and Regulations

Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded. The refuge system has special regulations about what you can do. You can find these regulations in the 50 Code of Federal Regulations - Subchapter C.

  • Plum Island - open for hiking and wildlife observation Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Daylight hours only. Plum Island coordinates: 85 56' 52.073"W 45 18' 46.55"N.
  • Hog Island - closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds
  • Pilot Island - closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds
  • St. Martin Island - currently closed to all public use
  • Detroit Island Unit - 148 acres of Detroit Island is open for public access including deer hunting. Remainder of island is privately owned. The parcel is located on the west shoreline at coordinates: N 45° 18’ 17.7” W 086° 54’ 11.6”.
  • Rocky Island - closed to all public use to protect colonial nesting birds

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 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 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 Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, commonly referred to as the Duck Stamp Act, requires waterfowl hunters, 16 years of age or older, to purchase and possess a valid Federal waterfowl hunting stamp prior to taking migratory waterfowl. The Secretary of the Interior is...

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 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 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.

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...