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Visitor Activities

Bald eagle in flight. Credit: Kent Mason

Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge is one of a special set of federal lands set aside for fish and wildlife as a primary purpose.  The six wildlife dependent activities allowed on Refuge lands are described in detail below. All refuge property is open to the public from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife viewing blind. Credit: USFWS

    Wildlife viewing can be done anywhere on the refuge but some good places to start are:

    - The trails around the visitor facility in Williamstown, WV
    - The trails, auto tour, and viewing blind on Middle Island in St. Marys, WV
    - On a boat around any island

    Some common sightings include:

    - Great blue herons around Fish Creek, Grape, and Letart Islands
    - White-tailed deer on every island
    - Red fox on Middle Island
    - Monarch butterflies at the Buckley mainland tract (visitor facility) (late summer)
    - Bald eagle around Broadback, Neal, and Grandview Islands (winter)

    Ohio River Islands NWR Bird List (pdf)

  • Interpretation

    Adults at a refuge program. Credit: USFWS

    The refuge provides the local community with many free interpretive programs. These programs are scheduled throughout the year and are based on different topics and themes that are part of our mission. This includes small scale events like weekly wildlife programs for kids during the summer up to larger festivals which have been held during refuge week or on International Migratory Bird Day. Please look for specific dates on our events calendar which can be found on the home page.

  • Environmental Education

    Kids at an environmental education program. Credit: USFWS

    Here at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, teachers of all kinds are encouraged to use the refuge as an educational resource. To have an environmental education program set up please contact the refuge staff at 304-375-2923 ext. 117.

  • Photography

    Photographer. Credit: USFWS

    The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge offers great opportunities for photographers. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, shots of wildlife or the landscape can be found every day.

    Some popular shots include:

    - Heron rookeries on Fish Creek, Grape, and Letart Islands.
    - Wintering waterfowl in backchannels and embayments.
    - Colorful insects along the butterfly trail at the visitor facility
    - Sunrises and sunsets on the river.

    If you would like to share your picture, email us a copy with your name and a description of when and where it was taken and we may post it on our Facebook page and website.

  • Hunting

    Hunter in stand. Credit: USFWS

    Deer (archery), waterfowl, dove, rabbit, and squirrel are the only species hunted on the refuge. A refuge hunting permit and appropriate state license are required. Permits will be available from August through February each year. To request a refuge hunting permit, call 304-375-2923 or visit our office at 3982 Waverly Road in Williamstown, WV. For refuge and state regulations and state license information explore the links below:

    - 2014 - 2015 Refuge Hunting Regulations (pdf)

    - West Virginia Hunting Regulations

    - Pennsylvania Hunting Regulations

    - Kentucky Hunting Regulations

    Reciprocal Agreement between Ohio and West Virginia (pdf)

  • Fishing

    Fisherman in a boat. Credit: USFWS

    Some of the best fishing in the Ohio River occurs around refuge islands. All refuge property is open to fishing during regular refuge hours unless otherwise posted. Bank fishing access is available at the refuge visitor facility in Williamstown, WV as well as on Middle Island in St. Marys, WV. State regulations are in effect with additional refuge regulations prohibiting the use of trotlines.

    - West Virginia Fishing Regulations

    - Pennsylvania Fishing Regulations

    - Kentucky Fishing Regulations

    - Reciprocal Agreement between Ohio and West Virginia (pdf)

Page Photo Credits — Bald eagle - © Kent Mason
Last Updated: Mar 25, 2017
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