Laws and Regulations



ONLY ducks, geese, coots, gallinules and common snipe may be hunted. All other species of wildlife, including pheasant, quail and dove, are protected and may not be killed.


Hunters may not possess more than 25 shotgun shells after leaving the parking areas. Only non-toxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be used on the refuge. 50 CFR 32.24 (A) (5) 


Hunting the first weekend of the season will be by special permit only. Permits are issued prior to the season and after a random drawing of applications. After opening weekend, hunters are required to use the self check-in and check-out registration cards available at the information stations at the three designated parking lots in the hunt units. 

Hunting Areas 

Areas open to hunting are posted as such and are designated on the refuge hunting map. Hunting areas are open 90 minutes before shooting time until 60 minutes after shooting time each hunt day. 


Hunters must enter and exit the hunting area from the three designated parking areas. All decoys and personal equipment must be taken in and out of the hunt area through the designated parking areas. Other access is prohibited. Guns must be unloaded in parking areas at all times.

Removal of Personal Property 

All decoys and other personal property must be removed from the refuge at the close of each day. 


Construction or use of permanent blinds is prohibited. Temporary blinds may be constructed, but such blinds shall be available for general use on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Spaced Blind Areas 

The Spaced Blind Hunting Area is serviced from a reserved parking area with corresponding numbered parking stalls. Hunters utilizing the spaced blinds are required to use numbered parking stalls which correspond to blind sites. This system is apportioned to hunters on a first-come, first-served basis. No more than one hunting party may occupy a spaced blind site. A hunting party is limited to four persons. Hunters must remain within the established blind except to retrieve downed birds and to return to or from the parking area. Blinds are ABA accessible and may be reserved by handicapped hunters. Blind 2 has a floating blind (as shown on Spaced Blind Map under Library section). 

Assigned Hunt Units 

There are 5 assigned hunt units (2 wetland, 1 dry grainfield, and 2 units which may be either freshly planted grain or moist soil wetland)  available on the Grandma Tract hunt area. Hunters utilizing the assigned hunt units must park in the numbered space corresponding to the unit they wish to hunt. Assigned hunt units are available on a first-come, first-served basis after opening weekend. No more than one party may occupy an assigned hunt unit. Each party may hunt from anywhere within the assigned unit boundaries. A hunting party is limited to four persons. Hunters must remain within the assigned hunt unit except to retrieve downed birds and going to or from their vehicle. Please note the "Retrieval Only" zones within the Grandma Tract, you may retrieve downed birds from within these areas but do not carry a gun into the retrieval zones. Do not enter beyond "Closed Area" signs. 

Retrieving Zones 

Retrieving zones are present on the west and east sides of the Grandma Tract hunt area. Firearms are not allowed beyond "Retrieval Zone" signs. Do not go beyond "Closed Area" signs. Pick up your cripples at once to prevent waste. 


Three commercial campgrounds are located in Alturas with overnight trailer hook-ups available. No overnight camping or parking is permitted on the refuge. 


The use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited. 50 CFR 32.2 (J) 


Dorris Reservoir

Reservoir Access 
  • The reservoir is closed to all public use during waterfowl hunting season, from October 1st through January 31st, to provide an additional sanctuary for wildlife. 
  • Walk-in access is allowed beginning on February 1st. 
  • Shoreline areas, islands, and peninsulas with nesting waterfowl are signed and closed to public access during waterfowl nesting season, March 1 through May 31. 
  • Licensed motorized vehicles are permitted on designated roads between April 1 and September 30. To protect wildlife habitat and plant and animal life, and to reduce soil erosion, off-road vehicle travel is not allowed. 
  • Fishing is permitted at the reservoir during the regular California State season with all State fishing regulations applicable. 
  • Boating is open April 1 through September 30. There are two boat launches and two other vehicle access points to the reservoir. No-wake zones in coves are designated with buoys to protect goose broods and other wildlife. 
  • Bicycles and mountain bikes are allowed April 1 through September 30 on roads designated for motor vehicles. No bike trails are available. 
  • Horseback riding is allowed April 1 through September 30 on roads and the designated trail across the dam. This trail, between the north and south gates, provides safe passage for riders and their horses off of Parker Creek Road. 
  • Swimming is available in areas open to public access April 1 through September 30.  
  • Personal watercraft (jet skis, wave runners, sea-doos, waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, etc.) are prohibited. 
General Guidelines 
  • Please park in designated parking areas and walk to the water's edge. 
  • Most of the lakeshore is privately owned. Please respect the private landowner's rights and obtain permission to use their property. 
  • For the benefit of wildlife and other refuge users, pets must be leashed at all times. 
  • Please respect others by maintaining the pack-in, pack-out policy for your trash. Littering is prohibited. 

Refuge Tour Route and Walking Trail

  • The refuge tour route is open to driving, biking, horse-back riding, and walking from 7:00 AM-Sunset.
  • Dogs are welcome, but they must be on a leash at all times.  
  • Speed limit on the tour route is 10mph.
  • Do not leave the designated tour route or walking trail.

Remainder of Refuge Lands

The remainder of the refuge is closed (except hunt units) to all public access unless accompanied by refuge staff during a special event or a special-use permit has been granted. 

USFWS Permits

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.

Visit the National Wildlife Refuge System website for Special Use Permits. For more detailed information, go to How to Obtain a Permit, FAQs/Facts or Application Forms. 

USFWS Passes

A series of passes covers the entrance and standard amenity fees charged for using federal recreational lands – including national wildlife refuges.

Existing Golden Eagle Passports and National Parks Passes with an expiration date will be honored until they expire. Paper versions of the Golden Age or Golden Access Passports should be exchanged for the new Senior or Access passes. However, plastic Golden Age or Access passes are valid for the pass holder's lifetime and do not need to be exchanged.

The Senior and Access passes are good for the lifetime of the holder and make available (to the pass holder only) 50 percent discounts on some expanded amenity fees.

For the first time, decals and hangtags are available: decals for those who park open-topped vehicles (like Jeeps) or motorcycles at unstaffed federal recreation sites, and hangtags for those who anticipate parking closed vehicles at unmanned facilities.

Please visit the National Wildlife Refuge System Web site for more information about passes.

Modoc NWR Permits and Passes

Refuge Permits

Besides for hunting (below), there are no special permits required for entrance onto Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. Only portions of the refuge are accessible to the public, and even those have special limitations during certain times of the year. Have a look at our visitor's map, and don't hesitate to call us at (530) 233-3572 if you have further questions regarding accessibility.  

Hunting Permits

Hunting the first weekend of the season will be by special permit only. Permits are issued prior to the season and after a random drawing of applications. After opening weekend, hunters are required to use the self check-in and check-out registration cards available at the information stations at the three designated parking lots in the hunt units.