Facility Rules and Policies

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of refuge rules and regulations. Please consult the refuge manager at 515-994-3400 if you have specific rules and regulations questions.

General Regulations
  • 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
  • Remain in your vehicle and on the road while inside the bison and elk enclosure
  • Skateboards, bicycles and Segway scooters are not allowed on refuge trail (leashed pets, wheelchairs, electric carts and strollers are permitted)
  • Firearms are permitted on refuge land in accordance with federal and state laws
  • Parking is allowed at designated areas marked with a “P”
  • Mushroom and berry harvesting allowed for personal consumption only
Prohibited activities
  • Target shooting
  • Shed antler collection
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash unless hunting
  • Parking in any field entrance (access must be maintained for emergency, fire and patrol vehicles)
  • Driving into fields or grassland areas
  • All types of motorized vehicles on all refuge land (to include on frozen bodies of water) except on designated parking areas, access roads and public roads
  • Non-motorized/motorized watercraft use
  • 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 and trash)
  • Damaging, 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 enterprises (including commercial photography) without a special use permit
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia
  • Except for authorized hunting activities, discharge of firearms on refuge land
  • Fireworks
  • May have additional requirements in addition to state regulations based on location, timing, species, methods of take, etc. (see refuge specific regulations below)
  • Where small game hunting is an approved use on the refuge, 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/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)
  • You may not use a spotlight, headlight or other artificial light to spot, locate or take any wild animal on a refuge
Additional Information
  • The above information is a partial list of rules and regulations
  • View the Neal Smith Public Use Regulations for more details
  • Special-use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses upon approval of the refuge manager; contact the refuge office for application information at 515-994-3400