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SELA Refuges Programs

Hunting and Fishing

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Hunting and fishing are "appropriate uses" on most national wildlife refuges.

Appropriate uses are proposed or existing uses on a refuge, including wildlife-dependent recreational use or uses that involve the taking of fish and wildlife under applicable State regulations.


Since the late 19th century, hunters have made many contributions to the conservation of the nation's wildlife resources. Millions of Americans deepen their appreciation and understanding of the land and its wildlife through hunting. Hunting organizations contribute millions of dollars and countless hours to various conservation causes each year.

Under Federal law, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has ultimate responsibility for regulating migratory bird hunting nationwide. Through a regulatory process that begins each year in January and includes public consultation, the FWS establishes the framework that govern all migratory bird hunting in the United States. Within this framework, state wildlife agencies have the flexibility to determine season length, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting.

Each state has primary responsibility and authority over the hunting of wildlife within state boundaries. The state wildlife agencies (in Louisiana and Mississippi) that sell hunting licenses are the best source of information regarding hunting seasons the areas that are open/closed to hunting, and bag limits.

Hunting of migratory birds such as ducks and geese is managed cooperatively by state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Migratory waterfowl hunters must possess both a state hunting license and a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp), and each hunter needs a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number for each state in which they hunt migratory birds.

Sport Fishing

We offer sport fishing opportunities on all of the refuges in the SELA Refuges Complex. The refuges all have boat launch facilities or are accessible from nearby public launch facilities.

Sport fishing generates tremendous economic benefit through taxes on fishing equipment. These revenues are paid by anglers, distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and spent by State resource agencies on aquatic habitat enhancement, fishing and boating access, education, and invasive species eradication.

Each state has primary responsibility and authority over sport fishing within state boundaries. The state wildlife agencies (in Louisiana and Mississippi) that sell fishing licenses are the best source of information regarding fishing seasons, the areas that are open/closed to fishing, and limits on your catch.

Refuge Regulations for Hunting and Fishing

Each refuge in the SELA Refuges Complex has refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations. We strongly urge you to review and be knowledgeable about these regulations. The refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulation brochures (public use regulation brochures) are available in the downloadable documents table on the refuge home pages. Links to each of the refuge home pages are found on the left side of this page.

For most refuges, the brochure incorporates a "Hunt Permit" that must be completed, signed and in the possession of the hunter while on the refuge.

All hunters and fisherman should know and follow hunting and fishing safety regulations and guidelines.

Remember, hunters and fisherman have to comply with applicable state regulations as well as refuge-specific regulations. You must also comply with any applicable boating regulations if you hunt or fish from a boat.

Last Updated on January 13, 2011