Skip to content
Information iconRecreate responsibly on national wildlife refuges. (Illustration: Sara Wolman/USFWS)

National wildlife refuges have become popular “close-to-home” destinations to enjoy outdoor recreation during the COVID pandemic. We need your help to ensure the safety of our visitors — both human and wild.

Not sure how to #RecreateResponsibly to keep all safe? Here are a few ways you can be like wildlife to ensure safety for everyone.



Explore locally.
This is a frosted elfin. It doesn’t migrate. It spends its entire life in one area. Be like this butterfly and EXPLORE LOCALLY. Except don’t feed on the flowers. That would be weird.

With national wildlife refuges within an hour’s drive of most cities and towns, you can limit your long-distance travel. Find a Refuge near your Zip code.


Upland Sandpiper Square

Know before you go.
This is an upland sandpiper. It takes the same migration route each year, flying 6,000 miles. Be like a sandpiper and KNOW BEFORE YOU GO. Except leave the skydiving to the birds.

Check the website and social media of the wildlife refuge you would like to visit. If the refuge is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a backup plan.


Heron Square

Keep your distance.
This a great blue heron. Herons fish apart from one another. Be like a great blue heron and KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Maybe don’t stab your food with your mouth. That would be rude.

Maintain at least 6 feet of distance on a trail, while fishing or in a parking lot. If a trail appears crowded, choose an alternate trail.



Know your limits.
This is a moose. Moose are big and strong — but can’t handle the heat. Be like a moose and KNOW YOUR LIMITS. And maybe don’t bellow for a mate.

Consider postponing challenging new activities while first responders and communities focus their emergency assistance efforts on the pandemic.



Keep it with you.
This is a vulture. Vultures leave no trace after a meal. Be like a vulture and KEEP IT WITH YOU. And don’t hunch.

Take everything home, including trash. Trash pickup and restroom facilities may be limited in many areas.



Practice good personal hygiene.
This is a sea otter. Sea otters love to groom themselves. They can spend almost half the day cleaning their fur. Be like a sea otter and PRACTICE GOOD PERSONAL HYGIENE.

Just don’t store food in your armpits. Yeah, they do that.


Build an Inclusive Outdoors

Sunset storm at- eedskadee National Wildlife Refuge Tom Koerner

This is Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming. It is a thriving place for a diversity of plant and animal life. Be like a national wildlife refuge. Take an active part in making the outdoors safe and welcoming for people of all backgrounds and abilities.

Pledge to #RecreateResponsibly on National Wildlife Refuges

Pledge to recreate responsibly
I pledge to recreate responsibly.


pledge to explore locally
I pledge to explore locally.


I pledge to leave no trace.
I pledge to leave no trace.


I pledge to know before I go.
I pledge to know before I go.


Pledge to physical distance
I pledge to physically distance.


Recreate Responsibly by Activity

Here are several recreational activities you can enjoy at a safe distance for both wildlife and people at national wildlife refuges.

Information iconMountains at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Photo: Ian Shive/USFWS