Swan River National Wildlife Refuge

What We Do

The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge's objectives include providing for waterfowl habitat and production and to provide habitat for other migratory birds. It also provides nesting for bald eagles and a variety of other avian species. In addition, deer, elk, moose, beaver, otter, bobcat, black bear, and threatened species including grizzly bears, bull trout, and water howellia are known to inhabit the area.

Management and Conservation

When the Refuge was under private ownership, it served as a fur farm and later, as a cattle operation. Old ditches and dikes constructed during private ownership have altered the hydrology of flooding events across the Refuge. To what degree the hydrology has been altered has yet to be determined, but is being explored through new light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology. Future habitat management efforts will be predicated on restoration of the Refuge hydrology. Haying, grazing, and/or prescribed burning are all options for managing the Refuge’s vegetative communities to meet habitat objectives.

Swan River NWR Wetland Restoration Project Final EA

Swan River Wetland Restoration Environmental Assessment (EA)

The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), located in northwest Montana, was established in 1973 as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purposes, for migratory birds. In July 2018, an additional 319...

Our Services


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (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 Web site for Special Use Permits.

For more detailed information, go to How to Obtain a Permit, FAQs/Facts or Application Forms.

If you are interested in obtaining a special use permit for Swan River National Wildlife Refuge, please contact the Refuge Manager at 406-564-9890 or amy_lisk@fws.gov.


A pass is not required to visit Swan River National Wildlife Refuge.

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

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement officers at the Swan River National Wildlife Refuge help visitors understand and obey the laws that protect our natural resources and provide for public safety. 

Laws and Regulations

For your safety and the protection of the natural resources, please follow all Refuge regulations.