Spending time in the outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellness. Now more than ever, we understand the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature. As a result, the Department plans to operate wildlife areas to provide recreational opportunities while keeping the public and Department staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to keep areas open as long as visitors implement required health and safety practices.
Please continue to check the Department’s website for updates. You may consult the Department’s Closure Page for the most up to date information.
The Department has implemented the following procedures for public and staff health and safety. Please remember the Department may need to update these provisions to ensure consistency with the latest state and local guidelines and directives.
Hunting Reservations and Lotteries
The Department does not anticipate changes to the current system of applying for and receiving reservations to hunt on state and federal wildlife areas through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). To fill vacancies created by reservation holders who are absent at check-in the morning of a shoot day, the Department utilizes in-person lotteries or first-come-first-served (FCFS) waiting lists. The Department will implement the following changes to in-person lottery and FCFS procedures for the 2021-22 waterfowl season:
- Hunters will be allowed to apply for a lottery or FCFS entry at only one state wildlife area or federal refuge per day on most areas.
- Lottery and FCFS hours may be adjusted and coordinated to facilitate this change across all regional check stations.
- At most areas, all hunters in a party will be required to apply for a lottery or FCFS entry in-person.
- Controls will be established in the check station area and parking lots to increase physical distancing among hunters and staff. Controls may include parking markers, directional signage, plexiglass barriers, extended counter tops, ground markers, etc. Face covering requirements will be consistent with state and local public health guidelines.
- To allow for slower processing times, check-in for hunters holding reservations and for lottery or FCFS opportunities may begin earlier than usual. Please continue to check the Waterfowl Reservation Information table (PDF)(opens in new tab) throughout the season, or contact the wildlife area or refuge for check-in times.
- To minimize the number of hunters congregating around the check stations, lottery and FCFS check-in may begin at a set time as opposed to immediately after reservation-holders are checked in (e.g. 1.5 hours before shoot time).
- Hunters may be asked to remain in their vehicles until called by staff to check in or check out by number.
In the Field and Check-out
- Controls for hunter/visitor check-out will be in place to minimize contact between hunters and staff, which may include drop boxes for collecting permits and harvest report cards.
- Staff inspecting harvested birds will wear masks and gloves and maintain appropriate distance from hunters.
- These measures may result in delayed posting of harvest results.
Health and Safety/Sanitation
- Please consider conducting a home health screening (Symptom Screener(opens in new tab)) before visiting a wildlife area/refuge for hunting or other recreational purposes.
- All staff and members of the public are required to wear masks and maintain a minimum of six feet distance from others while conducting check station business and participating in recreational programs, including hunting.
- Staff and the public are encouraged to practice appropriate hand hygiene(opens in new tab).
- Most non-portable restrooms will be closed to the public. Portable restrooms will be provided.
- Handwashing and/or hand sanitizer stations will be provided near all restrooms. Please bring your own supplies for use in areas where stations are not available.
- Please consider bringing your own cleaning supplies to pre-clean and post-clean portable restrooms and blinds
- Please plan to carry out your own trash
- Consistent with the lifting of Governor’s Regional Stay Home Order, camping activities on Fish and Wildlife lands resumed effective February 1, 2021 for areas where camping is permitted. However, camping may be cancelled at any time due to state or local public health and safety mandates.
- Campers and their guests are responsible for following state and local public health guidelines