Frequently Asked Questions

A Wilson’s snipe, with its long bill, large eyes, and brown and tan striped face, stands on rocks along Ninepipe Reservoir.  Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick, Volunteer, NBRC/USFWS

If you can’t find your answer here, feel free to contact us by following the link to our Contact Page.

I’ve heard that hunting for waterfowl and upland game birds is allowed at Ninepipe. Is hunting allowed on the Refuge?

This is a question we get a lot because of the similarity in names of the Federal and State areas. Hunting is not allowed at Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge but it is allowed on the Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area, which is the state area that surrounds the Refuge. This can cause a lot of confusion and you need to be aware where you are when you hunt. Both areas are well signed and the Ninepipe Recreation Guide and Map (3.5 MB .pdf file) will help you get around to all the sites in the area that are open for hunting. Do remember, hunting is in accordance with applicable Tribal, State and Federal regulations so consult with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes regulations.


When is the best time to see migrating birds?

The Mission Valley is on the edge of the Pacific Flyway, and the Central Flyway is over the Continental Divide to the east. Waterfowl numbers vary through the year, with major concentrations occurring in spring and fall. Spring migration is at a peak from late March to early May. Fall populations often peak in early October to late November. The birds seem to come in waves – such as a flock of 100 tundra swans for a few days before they move on, then the next week it might be the western grebes, then redheads, then coots, and so on. So we never see very large numbers of birds during migration but we do get a wide variety. Check out Seasons of Wildlife page for details.


Why can’t I ice fish on Ninepipe Reservoir as soon as there is enough ice?

Ninepipe NWR was established to function “as a refuge and breeding grounds for native birds” (Executive Order 3503, June 25, 1921). As such, there are certain times of the year when all or parts the Refuge are closed to public use to accommodate the birds. This includes being completely closed during the waterfowl hunting season (typically from early October to early January). Areas around the Refuge are open to hunting and the closure of the refuge provides waterfowl with a resting place. Disturbance to birds is eliminated by closing the Refuge to all public use during this time. Then from the end of Waterfowl Season until the last day in February, the Refuge again opens in its entirety, allowing ice fishing (ice condition permitting, of course). From March 1 until July 14, some areas close to protect nesting birds. The Refuge opens completely for use from July 15 until the start of the Waterfowl Hunting Season. To see designated open and closed areas, refer to the Public Use Opportunities pamphlet.