The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge is unlike other Refuges in that it was not established for the protection of a specific species, but in order to protect the high water quality of the historic Suwannee River. The flow of the Suwannee feeds the estuarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, habitat for the Gulf sturgeon and feeding grounds for resident and migratory shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl.

"NOTE:  Lower Suwannee NWR roadside and overhead clearing is expected to begin in 2024.

The Refuge received funding to reclaim roads, clear roadsides, and overhead trees on 70 miles of our grass roads ("behind the locked yellow gates").  After 44 years of ecological succession the forest has regrown with a vengeance. We are reclaiming our right of ways primarily for ease of access with equipment, for prescribed fire safety, and to increase grasses and flowering shrubs for pollinators.  While we encourage the contractors to not work during hunt seasons, they do have the prerogative to do so.

Shellmound Observation Pier will be rebuilt starting at the soonest in August.  This will be closed to public entry while under construction.

Refuge Hunts 

The Refuge remains open to all activities during hunts.
Hunters and non hunters are expected to share the Refuge and be respectful of each other.

You are advised to:

  • Avoid going down a gated side road where a vehicle is already parked during an active hunt. 
  • Non hunters should consider wearing bright safety colors.
  • Avoid interactions that interfere with each other.

2023 - 2024 Refuge Hunt Dates:

Type of HuntDates
Archery 16 Sept. – 15 Oct.
Muzzleloader21 Oct.  -  29 Oct.  
General Gun No. 1 4 Nov. - 12 Nov. 
Thanksgiving Family Hunt    17 – 19 Nov. 
Thanksgiving General Gun No. 2   20 – 26 Nov. 
Feral Hog/Small Game   27 Jan. – 11 Feb. 
Youth Turkey  9 – 10 Mar. 
Spring Turkey  16 Mar. – 7 Apr.

Visit Us

The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to its visitors every season of the year. People enjoy viewing the variety of habitats and diverse wildlife; whether paddling, driving, or walking.

All outdoor areas of the Refuge are open sunrise to sunset.

Areas behind the locked yellow gates are closed to driving but open to foot and bike traffic.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Located along the southern edge of the Big Bend Region of Florida's Gulf Coast, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect this riverine and estuarine ecosystem dominated by fresh and saltwater wetlands.

      What We Do

      Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect, maintain, enhance, and where appropriate, restore habitats along the lower reaches of the Suwannee River. The refuge also protects water quality and quantity through sound land resource management and cooperative relationships with state agencies that have jurisdictional authority over the water and aquatic resources therein. Further, the Refuge provides habitat for several Federal threatened and endangered species and species of special concern in the state of Florida

      Our Species

      The historic Suwannee River, featured in the song by Stephen Foster, is home to many native species like whitetail deer, gray fox, otter, eagles, and the endangered salt marsh salt marsh
      Salt marshes are found in tidal areas near the coast, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

      Learn more about salt marsh
      vole.  At the Lower Suwannee NWR, wildlife comes first!

      Our Library

      Refuge Hunt Brochure Lower Suwannee NWR

      Hunt regulations and hunt dates; pdf and Word docx. Also, how to buy a permit for the Refuge Quota hunts.

      How to Buy Lower Suwannee Hunt Permit

      This describes the steps in obtaining a hunt permit on the GoOutdoorsFlorida website.

      Get Involved

      The mission of the Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges is to provide active advocacy and physical support for the successful stewardship of the Refuges.

      Friends of Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges 

      Projects and Research

      The Refuge’s initiatives are:  trails and roads maintenance for public access, law enforcement to protect the public and trust resources, supporting our Friends, Volunteers, and partners; bird surveys, forest habitat restoration, habitat management and the prescribed fire program; supporting a diverse array of wildlife dependent recreational activities, maintenance of public facilities like boat ramps and fishing piers, invasive species invasive species
      An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

      Learn more about invasive species
      removal, and assisting FWS, state of Florida, university, and other partners on a wide array of projects.