Facility Rules and Policies

The Wildlife Drive and trails are open from sunrise to sunset with an entrance pass or fee. Federal Passes are available at the Fee Booth and Tarpon Bay Explorers.

The Refuge is open for nature photography, wildlife observation, fishing, environmental education and interpretation. To protect the natural resources of the Refuge and to provide all visitors with a safe and enjoyable wildlife experience, please observe all Refuge signs and regulations in handouts and brochures.

Sport Fishing

We allow sport fishing and crabbing in designated areas of the refuge subject to the following conditions:

(i) We allow the take of crabs with the use of dip nets only.

(ii) All anglers must exit refuge lands and waters no later than 1⁄2 hour after legal sunset.

(iii) We prohibit the possession and use of seines or trot lines.

(iv) We prohibit the use of cast nets from the left (south) side of Wildlife Drive or any water control structure structure
Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

Learn more about structure
, bridge, boardwalk, or rip rap affixed to Wildlife Drive.

(v) All fish must remain in whole condition until removed from refuge lands and waters, except for fish caught and landed by individuals using the services of the refuge concessionaire at the Tarpon Bay recreation area. Those fish may be cleaned at the designated fish cleaning station in the concession area.

(vi) We prohibit the use of bows and spears from Wildlife Drive or any trail or structure affixed to Wildlife Drive.

Other Regulations

ALL federal, state, and local laws and regulations are applicable on Refuge lands and waters, including the following Refuge-specific regulations:

(i)We prohibit kite surfing, kite boarding, wind surfing, and sail boarding.

(ii) We allow vessels propelled only by polling, paddling, or floating in the posted “no-motor zone” of the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wilderness Area. All motors, including electric motors, must be in a nonuse position (out of the water) when in the “no-motor zone.”

(iii) We allow vessels propelled only by polling, paddling, floating, or electric motors in the posted “pole/troll zone” of the Wulfert Flats Management Area. All non-electric motors must be in a nonuse position (out of the water) when in the “pole/troll zone.”

(iv) We allow launching of canoes and kayaks anywhere on the right (north) side of Wildlife Drive. We prohibit launching motorized vessels over 14 feet (4.2 meters) in length from Wildlife Drive. Motorized vessels less than 14 feet (4.2 meters) in length may only be launched from designated site #2.

(v) We prohibit airboats, hovercraft, personal watercraft, and “Go-Devil”-style outboard motors.

(vi) Vessels must not exceed slow speed/minimum wake in refuge waters.