Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge lands are accessible year round. Acceptable outdoor uses include nature photography, wildlife observation, environmental education, interpretation, and hunting by permit. The refuge trails are open dawn to dusk. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash. Refuge hunting is by permit only, and you apply through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. The wildlife drive closes at sunset and parking is in designated spots only. Make sure to observe all refuge regulations, posted refuge boundary signs, no hunting zones, and closed areas.

 

To report a wildlife violation call 1-844-NWR-TIPS (844-697-8477)


Welcome to your National Wildlife Refuge! Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, cross-country ski, snowshoe, kayak and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. Please consult the Refuge Manager at 419-898-0014 if you have questions. We may post additional site-specific regulations below or at kiosks on site.

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.

General Restrictions

  • Access to the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset unless otherwise posted or stated in hunting regulations.

We prohibit:

  • Target shooting.
  • Training pets and allowing pets off leash.
  • The use of off-road vehicles and snowmobiles on refuge lands.
  • Watercraft use except in designated areas. See the Fishing brochure.
  • Camping, open fires and overnight parking.
  • Abandoning, discarding or otherwise leaving any personal property. All property brought onto a refuge must be removed at the end of each day. This includes all common items like vehicles, boats, decoys, trail cameras, blinds, geo-caching items, photography equipment, portable stands (except deer stands in hunting areas open to public), ice fishing shelters and trash.
  • Destructing, defacing, disturbing or unauthorized removal of any natural object, artifact, cultural resource or government property.
  • Introducing, liberating or placing plants or animals or their parts taken elsewhere on refuge lands or waters.
  • Disposing of animal carcasses, trash, refuse, rocks, wood or other debris.
  • Cutting, mowing, sawing, digging, collecting, injuring or removing vegetation.
  • Launching, landing or disturbing of wildlife by aircraft (drones) on the refuge. This includes for recreational or commercial purposes.
  • Commercial enterprise without a special use permit. Commercial still photography does not require a special use permit, provided it lacks sets, props and models and images are not used for promotional purposes. Refuge regulations must be followed while conducting commercial still photography and public spaces cannot be blocked. See the Visitor Activities page for details.
  • Use or possession of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.

Hunting

  • Hunting is an approved use on the refuge. Controlled Hunts occur for both waterfowl and deer by permit only. Other areas are designated open to public hunting per State regulations. See the Hunting brochure for the areas, species, method of take and additional requirements.
  • Small game hunting is an approved use on the refuge on designated areas. Hunters using shotguns, including turkey hunters, are required to use and possess only non-toxic shot.
  • During the small game and migratory bird seasons, hunting dogs must be under the immediate control of the hunter.
  • Hunters must wear an article of blaze orange consistent with State regulations.
  • We prohibit constructing or occupying permanent stands or blinds. We also prohibit the use of nails, wire, screws or bolts to attach a stand to a tree or hunting from a tree, into which a metal object has been driven to support a hunter. Portable blinds must be set up and removed each day. Portable deer stands may be left in field in designated areas during hunting season per State regulations (see Hunting brochure).
  • We prohibit the use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting.
  • We prohibit distribution of feed or bait, or hunting over bait. This includes salts and minerals.

Trapping

  • Trapping is an approved use on the refuge by special use permit only. Limited trapping opportunities may exist for management purposes. Contact the refuge office at 419-898-0014 for application information and bid process.

Fishing

  • Fishing is an approved use on the refuge. See the Fishing brochure for additional regulations and designated areas open to fishing.
  • We prohibit motorized watercraft use except in designated areas. See the Fishing brochure.
  • We prohibit the taking of any turtle, frog, leech, minnow, crayfish, and mussel (clam) species by any method on the refuge.

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Specific

  • Horses, bicycles, running/walking/hiking, snowmobiles and all other off-highway vehicles (OHV) are prohibited on the Wildlife Drive.
  • The Crane Creek and Crane Creek Estuary are closed to all boats and flotation devices from State Route 2 to the mouth of Crane Creek at Lake Erie.

Additional Information

  • The information above is a partial list of rules and regulations. Consult the Ottawa/Cedar Point Hunting and Fishing brochures for details.
  • Contact the refuge office for additional information at 419-898-0014.