Facility Rules and Policies

Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge offers many opportunities for public use including hunting, wildlife observation, photography, walking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The refuge is open to public use during daylight hours only. Refuge hunting regulations generally follow applicable Illinois state seasons and regulations - some special regulations apply.  

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of our rules and regulations. Please consult the refuge manager by phone at 815-678-4532 (ext. 8206) or by email at kankakee@fws.gov for more information.

Refuge Access

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 snowshoe, or simply enjoy spending time outdoors alone, or with friends and family. If you have any questions, please consult the refuge manager as additional site-specific regulations may change. 

To ensure both your safety and the safety and protection of wildlife and habitat, please be aware of the following regulations:  

Access to refuge lands is open from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, unless otherwise posted. 

We prohibit:
  • Target shooting
  • Training of dogs and/or possessing dogs off leach while on Refuge.
  • The operation of motorized vehicles on refuge land (to include frozen bodies of water), except on designated parking areas and public roads. Public access is via foot travel only unless otherwise authorized.
  • 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 portable stands, climbing sticks, blinds, trail cameras, decoys, geo-caching items, photography equipment, 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 on refuge lands or waters
  • The use of horses or other domestic livestock for recreational trail riding, big game retrieval or any other purpose. 
  • 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

Hunting is an approved use on the refuge that is subject to all applicable state and federal laws, in addition to refuge-requirements described below.  

Learn more about hunting at Kankakee.

  • Turkey and deer hunting are allowed on the refuge; hunting of other game species are not.
  • Hunters may only possess approved non-toxic shot, including turkey hunters
  • All property brought onto a refuge must be removed at the end of each day. This includes all common items like portable stands, climbing sticks, blinds, decoys, trail cameras, and trash. 
  • No night hunting is allowed
  • No marking or flagging of any tree or other refuge feature with reflectors, paint, or other substance. 
  • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange/pink consistent with state regulations
  • We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting
  • We prohibit distribution of feed or bait, or hunting over bait. This includes, but not limited, to salts and minerals. 
  • We prohibit constructing or occupying permanent stands or blinds, 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 tree stands and ground blinds must be set up and removed each day and be used in accordance to state regulations. 
  • We prohibit organized deer drives. We define a “deer drive” as an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase, or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who is part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the deer.
  • Lands surrounding the boundaries of refuge are private. Persons wishing to hunt on private land must gain permission from the landowner.
  • Trapping is prohibited on all areas of the refuge
  • No fishing opportunities are currently available on the refuge, and the collection of frogs and turtles is prohibited
Artificial Lights 
  • You may not use a spotlight, headlight or other artificial light to spot, locate or take any wild animal on a refuge 
Additional Information 

Special use permits may be issued for compatible activities including research, wood cutting and other activities on the refuge upon approval of the refuge manager. Contact the refuge office for application information at 815-678-4532 ext. 8206. We proudly work with researchers from all backgrounds and specialties to learn more about the health of the refuge ecosystems and public resources.