Facility Rules and Policies

To protect the natural resources of Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and to provide all visitors with a safe and enjoyable wildlife experience, please observe all signs and all regulations in handouts, brochures, and postings.  

General Rules and Regulations on Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge:  

  • All plants and animals are protected. All government property, including natural, historic, and archaeological features, are protected. Removal is prohibited.  
  • Give birds their space. Keep your person and all equipment far enough away from resting birds so that they do no flush. 
  • Take off and landing of unmanned aerial systems/drones is prohibited on refuge lands.  
  • Pets must be contained on a 6' leash. 
  • Nudity is prohibited.  
  • Respect island camping closures May-Sept.  
  • Off-road vehicles are prohibited. 
  • Littering is prohibited. Take trash and fishing line out with you to prevent wildlife conflicts or harm.  
Special Activities

Some commercial, recreational and research activities are allowed on national wildlife refuges only with a special use permit issued by the local office, and are subject to specific conditions and fees. This permit requirement is meant to ensure that all activities at the federal site are compatible with the refuge’s Congressionally mandated wildlife conservation goals. 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 and scientific communities to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would be otherwise prohibited by law. Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife.   

For more detailed information about Special Use Permits on National Wildlife Refuges, visit the National Wildlife Refuge System (linked to https://www.fws.gov/service/special-use-permits-national-wildlife-refuges)  

Special Activities at Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge  

Most special events and activities held in Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge require Special Use Permits (SUP) and are issued after the Refuge Manager has assessed the activity to be appropriate and compatible with the Refuge purposes. Refuge activities, including but not limited to scientific research, organized education activities, first amendment activities, and all commercial activities require a Special Use Permit. Permits must be secured before any special use activity commences on the Refuge lands and inland waters. Plan ahead and allow for 30 working days to process a permit request. In addition, if significant staff time is expended in the evaluation of a complex permitting request, the applicant will be billed for these staff costs.  

 Application Process 
Complete the Permit Application that applies to your activity and submit via email (floridapanther@fws.gov) or mail (12085 State Road 29 South, Immokalee, FL 34142) to the Florida Panther NWR Refuge Manager. See below for information about each type of SUP.  

Commercial Activities Special Use Permit 
Commercial Activities include guided tours (eg. fishing, ecotours, hiking, hunting, boating) and commercial filming (audio, video, photographic products of monetary value). The Application requires information about the activity, personnel and equipment. Commercial Use SUPs are issued annually, from October 1 through the following September. 

All commercial users must provide a copy of their insurance certificate identifying the Refuge as an Additional Insured Party. The refuge name and address needs to be listed on the insurance certificate under the Certificate Holder section. The minimum amount of commercial liability insurance by a U.S. company is generally one million dollars. However, there may be a reduced amount of liability insurance coverage of $500,000 that can apply to some smaller commercial users if their application reflects details of lower-risk commercial services. Insurance be must carried by the permit requester at the time of the application submission and throughout the requested time of the permit.  

All Commercial Use SUPs will be subject to a base fee of $150.00, and additional fees may apply. Checks need to be made payable to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. All fees are due at the time of permit issuance and only checks from US banks or money orders are acceptable to pay permit fees. While it is possible to remit fee payment via mail, it is best for the fee remittance to be paid in person at the above address after a Refuge Manager has corresponded with the applicant and given an approval for a Commercial Use SUP. 

All watercraft guides (this includes Permit holder and listed subpermitees) must also provide the following: 

  • a copy of their motor-powered vessel’s Certificate of Registration 
  • a copy of either a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Boating License or US Coast Guard Boating License.  
  • a copy of current CPR and First Aid Certifications for all guides 

Commercial Activities Special Use Permit Application available HERE:   

(Linked to https://www.fws.gov/media/commercial-activities-special-use-permit-appl…

Research and Monitoring Special Use Permit: 
Special Use Permits are required for all research and monitoring activities conducted on Refuge lands. Projects must contribute to the enhancement, protection, use, preservation, or management of native wildlife populations and their habitats within the Refuge. The following factors will be evaluated:  

• Will the project benefit the Refuge? 
• Does the project address an issue of direct management concern to the Refuge? 
• Does the project address an issue of concern for overall South Florida ecosystem? 
• Can the activity/research be conducted elsewhere? 
• Is the activity compatible with the objectives of the Refuge? 
• Will the project require the use of government equipment or personnel? 
• Is the applicant(s) qualified?  
If you feel that your research project has sound merit, please complete the application at the link below and provide a copy of your detailed research proposal that address the above factors. 

Research Special Use Permit Application available HERE  

(Linked to https://www.fws.gov/media/research-and-monitoring-special-use-permit-ap…;
General Activities Special Use Permit 
For miscellaneous one-time events, such as educational activities, First Amendment activities, and compatible use gatherings, please complete an application for a General Special Use Permit. First Amendment gatherings will not be subject to staff fees. 

General Activities Special Use Permit Application available HERE  

(Link to https://www.fws.gov/media/general-activities-special-use-permit-applica…;