Be a BARK Ranger
Recreate Responsibly at the Refuge with your Pet

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge can be a wonderful place to visit with your furry companion as long as you visit responsibly to protect your pet, wildlife, habitat, and other visitors.

B = Bag and Remove Your Pet's Waste

Help keep the refuge clean by always collecting and disposing of your pet’s waste. Bring a bag from home or grab a collection bag at one of our many trailhead pet waste stations. Then drop it into the waste bin at the trailhead or in a nearby refuge trash can or dumpster. Do not leave waste bags on the side of trails, or toss them off-trail into refuge habitat. (There is no poo fairy to remove waste bags that are left behind!)


  • Dog feces are not a natural fertilizer. In fact, they can spread diseases and parasites to wildlife, and people. 
  • Dog feces can also pollute water sources, like Lake Lowell.

A = Always Wear a Leash

Pets must always remain on a leash no longer than 6 feet while visiting the refuge. (Hunting dogs may be off leash while actively hunting, but they must remain under strict voice control.) If you forget your leash, borrow one from a Leash Loaner Station at some refuge trailheads and parking lots. 


  • Protect wildlife from the stress and wasted energy of running or flying from loose dogs. Off-leash dogs can also cause wildlife to abandon nests and young. Finally, dogs can injure or even kill refuge wildlife.
  • Protect your dog from being injured by wildlife, by stepping on trash, or by stepping on or breathing in sharp natural objects like seeds.
  • Protect other visitors: Not every refuge visitor is a dog person, so unleashed dogs can frighten other visitors, even if your dog is well-behaved and friendly. Please respect other visitors and keep your pet leashed, regardless of how friendly your dog may be.

R = Respect Wildlife

Keep your pet on designated trails and stay at a respectful distance from any wildlife you encounter.


You are visiting wildlife at their refuge home. Please help the refuge conserve and protect wildlife and the habitats they call home. 

  • Dogs threaten refuge wildlife by chasing them, flushing them from nests, and even injuring or killing them.
  • The scent of a dog can stress wildlife even long after the dog has left the area.

K = Know Where You Can Go

Leashed dogs are allowed only on designated trails, on maintained roads, and in the Lower Dam Recreation Area. Hunting dogs are allowed off-trail only when actively hunting.

Pets are not allowed inside the Visitor Center, with the exception of Service animals. Please do not leave your pets unattended to enter refuge facilities.


  • Off-trail pets would increase disturbance to wildlife, as well as to nests and other wildlife habitat.
  • Staying on trail also protects your pet from ticks and other dangers.

Story Tags

Human impacts
Human-wildlife conflicts

Recreational Activities