Minnesota State Lands: Rules and Regulations for Conservation Areas

Aquatic Management Areas (AMAs)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fish and Wildlife Division is dedicated to preserving the state's aquatic ecosystems, offering fishing opportunities, and safeguarding critical fish habitats. To achieve these objectives, the DNR has established Aquatic Management Areas (AMAs) along lakes and streams. It's essential to understand the guidelines for these areas to ensure responsible use:

  • Fishing Opportunities: AMAs are designated to provide fishing opportunities, making them ideal for anglers.
  • Protection of Fish Habitat: These areas also serve to protect critical fish habitat, ensuring the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Equipment Responsibility: Leaving personal equipment, such as tree stands, unattended on AMAs, is strictly prohibited. It is essential to maintain responsibility for your equipment.

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

The Minnesota DNR manages Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) to support wildlife conservation and provide recreational opportunities for the public. Here are important rules and regulations for WMAs:

  • Hunting and Trapping: WMAs are open for hunting and trapping during established seasons, allowing for the harvest of various protected wild animals.
  • Trespassing: Portions of WMAs may be posted as closed to trespassing, and entry without DNR authorization is prohibited.
  • Closed Hours: WMAs have specific closed hours posted at major access points, and entry during these hours is allowed only by permit.
  • Camping: Camping is restricted to designated overnight-use areas or with a permit from the wildlife manager. Overnight equipment must be occupied or attended.
  • Alcohol: Consumption of alcoholic beverages is only allowed for individuals lawfully occupying an overnight-use area.
  • Firearms and Shooting: Target, skeet, trap, or indiscriminate shooting is prohibited. Possession of uncased or loaded firearms or bows is only permitted when lawfully taking a wild animal or by permit.
  • Property Preservation: Destruction or removal of property, including signs, fences, gates, buildings, trees, shrubs, and more, is prohibited, except for specific allowances.
  • Garbage Disposal: Disposing of live animals, carcasses, garbage, trash, spoil, sludge, rocks, vehicles, or other debris on WMAs is strictly prohibited.
  • Equipment Responsibility: Equipment like boats, decoys, game cameras, and more must not be left unattended overnight, except in specific cases.
  • Blinds and Structures: Constructing or maintaining structures on WMAs is generally prohibited, with some exceptions.
  • Elevated Stands: The use of elevated stands is subject to regulations, and they must be removed each day unless specific conditions apply.
  • Dogs and Domestic Animals: Guidelines regarding dogs and other domestic animals are outlined, including leash requirements and prohibitions.
  • Hunting of Unprotected Animals: Rules for the hunting of unprotected wild animals are detailed.
  • Permits for Beaver, Otter, and Crows: Special permits are required for the harvest of beavers, otters, and crows in WMAs.

For detailed information about specific wildlife management areas and their regulations, visit the DNR's website at mndnr.gov/wmas.

Minnesota WMAs with Special Restrictions

Minnesota's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) play a crucial role in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation. It's important to be aware of special restrictions that apply to certain WMAs across the state. Here is a comprehensive list of WMAs with special restrictions:

Becklin Homestead Park WMA (Isanti County)

  • Open only to accessible hunts.

Bass Brook WMA (Itasca County) and St. Michael Meadow WMA (Wright County)

  • Closed to hunting and trapping but open to archery deer hunting.

Bayport WMA (Washington County), Hastings WMA (Dakota County), and Raguet WMA (Scott and Carver Counties)

  • Closed to trapping unprotected mammals except during trapping seasons for protected species.
  • Firearms must be unloaded and cased, except in designated hunting areas during small game season when shotguns with BBB or smaller shot are permitted.
  • Archery equipment is limited to designated hunting areas during established seasons on Bayport WMA.

Vermillion River AMA/WMA and Gores Pool #3 WMA (Dakota County)

  • Portions are posted archery only for deer.
  • On the same portions, all other game is restricted to shotguns with BBB shot or smaller.

Chub Lake WMA (Dakota County)

  • Portions are posted archery only.

Boerner WMA (Sibley County), Buelow WMA (Steele County), Bryson WMA (Freeborn County), Chapa Kak-Say-Za WMA (Steele County), and Hutchinson WMA (McLeod County)

  • Closed to the hunting and trapping of all species.

Carl and Verna Schmidt WMA (LeSueur County), Bur Oak WMA (LeSueur County), Hearding Island WMA and Interstate Island WMA (St. Louis County), and Pine City WMA (Pine County)

  • Closed to hunting of all species.

Carlos Avery WMA Controlled Hunt Zone

  • Two waterfowl hunting areas are available by drawing on Saturday and Tuesday mornings until the firearms deer opener. For details, visit mndnr.gov/averyhunt or call Carlos Avery WMA Headquarters at 651-539-3323.

Gold Portage WMA (Koochiching and St. Louis Counties)

  • Open only to waterfowl hunting.

Gun Lake WMA (Aitkin County)

  • A 20-acre posted wildlife sanctuary is closed to trespass from September 1 through March 31.

Pelican Lake WMA (Wright County)

  • A 102-acre posted wildlife sanctuary east of Iffert Avenue Northeast is closed to trespass from March 1 through November 30.

Four Corners WMA (Martin County)

  • The portion of Four Corners WMA located south of County Road 32 (140th Street), east of State Highway 4, and north of North Shore Drive is posted as a Wildlife Sanctuary and is closed to access, hunting, or trapping during duck season from opening day through the final day.

Hampton Woods WMA (Dakota County)

  • Open for archery deer hunting and spring and fall turkey hunting.
  • Small game may be taken through November 30.
  • Trapping and predator hunting by special permit only.
  • Only shotguns with fine shot (BBB or smaller diameter) may be used.
  • Some areas are posted as "No Hunting." Contact the Vermillion Complex Wildlife Office for more information at (651) 322-4643.

Haverhill WMA (Olmsted County)

  • Has buffer areas closed to the discharge of firearms and hunting along the southern boundary and south of the west parking lot.
  • Closed to waterfowl hunting.

Uppgaard WMA (Crow Wing County)

  • Open to hunting beginning on the opening day of waterfowl hunting.

Gordon W. Yeager WMA (in the Rochester Refuge, Olmsted County), Eastside WMA (Olmsted County), and Clare Johnson–Carl Schmidt WMA (Morrison County)

  • Closed to waterfowl hunting.
  • Except on the Eastside WMA, firearms are restricted to shotguns with fine shot (No. 4 or smaller) only for small game hunting.

Gordon W. Yeager WMA

  • Closed to the discharge of firearms west of County Road 22 (East Circle Drive) by posting.

Thief Lake and Orwell WMAs

  • Small game hunting (including fall turkey) is restricted in the Controlled Goose Hunting Zones.

Lake Blanche WMA (Ottertail County)

  • Closed to firearms deer hunting.

Mentel WMA (Mower County)

  • Closed to all firearms hunting, open for trapping and archery hunting.

Moose Willow WMA (Aitkin County)

  • The south portion of the Moose Pool is posted as a wildlife sanctuary, closed to access, hunting, or trapping from September 1 to March 31.

Ricehaven WMA (St. Louis County)

  • The posted sanctuary is closed to all trespass from September 15 through November 24.
  • Canoeing, birdwatching, and wild rice harvest (during the wild rice season) are allowed from May 1 through September 14.
  • Hunting and trapping for any species for which there is an open season is allowed from November 25 through April 30 in the posted area.

Sand Prairie WMA (Sherburne County)

  • Open during the regular archery season for youth ages 10 through 17.

Sandstone WMA (Pine County)

  • Open to archery hunting for deer (no firearms deer hunting).
  • Archery bear hunting by special permit only.
  • Open to hunting and trapping of all other species by legal means during designated seasons.

Timber Lake WMA (Jackson County)

  • The area east of 440th Avenue and south of State Highway 60 is closed to firearms deer hunting (as posted).
  • Portions are closed to all hunting during the duck season from opening day through the final day (as posted).

Pike Bay WMA (St. Louis County)

  • Closed to trapping of all species.

Schrafel WMA (Mower County)

  • Closed to trapping and firearms hunting.
  • Open to falconry and archery hunting for deer and small game.

Bruce J. Schwartz WMA (Becker County)

  • Closed to firearms and muzzleloader deer hunting.

Dr. Johan C. Hvoslef WMA (Fillmore County)

  • Open to archery hunting only from September 1 through October 31 and during the spring turkey season.
  • Firearms hunting (no centerfire rifles) is allowed from November 1 through December 15.

Wesley Olson WMA (Big Stone County)

  • A portion is closed to all trespass, but the remaining area is open to hunting.

West Heron Lake WMA (Jackson County)

  • The area north of 860th Street posted as Wildlife Sanctuary is closed from September 1 through the final day of duck season (as posted).

Somsen WMA (Brown County)

  • Closed to hunting.

Perched Valley WMA (Goodhue County) and Yucatan WMA (Fillmore and Houston Counties)

  • Have buffer areas posted closed to hunting.

Roseau River WMA (Roseau County)

  • The Pool 1 Sanctuary is open for deer hunting during the muzzleloader season (including archery hunting).

Vermillion Highlands—A Research, Recreation and Wildlife Management Area (Dakota County)

  • Open to archery, firearms, and muzzleloader deer hunting by special lottery only.
  • Open to late-season pheasant and goose hunting and spring turkey hunting.
  • Pheasant and goose hunting is open from December 11, 2023, through the end of the respective seasons.
  • Predator hunting is allowed from January 1 - March 15 by special permit only.
  • Closed to small game and all other species not listed above.

For any questions or additional information, please contact the Vermillion Complex Wildlife Office at 651-322-4643.

Trapping Permits Required on Certain WMAs

Trapping on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Minnesota requires specific permits on the following WMAs:

Carlos Avery WMA (Anoka and Chisago Counties)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Hampton Woods WMA (Dakota County)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Hubbel Pond WMA (Becker County)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Red Lake WMA (Beltrami and Lake of the Woods Counties)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Lac qui Parle WMA (Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, Swift, and Chippewa Counties)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Mille Lacs WMA (Mille Lacs and Kanabec Counties)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Roseau River WMA (Roseau County)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Talcot Lake WMA (Cottonwood and Murray Counties)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Thief Lake WMA (Marshall County)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Vermillion Highlands WMA (Dakota County)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Whitewater WMA (Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona Counties)

  • All trappers must obtain a permit from the area manager.

Please note that regardless of the furbearers taken, a permit is required on these WMAs for trapping activities. Make sure to contact the respective area manager for permit details and regulations.

Ginseng Harvesting Regulations

Wild ginseng harvesting is regulated in WMAs. Here are the details:

  • Wild ginseng harvesting is prohibited in WMAs, except in the Whitewater WMA, where it is allowed by permit from the area wildlife manager.
  • The ginseng harvesting season opens on September 1.

Motor Vehicles and Aircraft Regulations

When using motor vehicles and aircraft on WMAs, the following regulations apply:

  • Aircraft may not be used over a WMA in a manner that disturbs wildlife, except in emergencies or with authorization from the wildlife manager. Drones are also not allowed over WMAs.
  • Motor vehicles licensed for use on public highways may be operated on established roads in certain WMAs at speeds not exceeding 20 mph, unless posted otherwise. However, vehicles may not go beyond signs prohibiting vehicular use, constructed vehicle barriers, or operate recklessly.
  • Vehicles are prohibited on all other WMAs, except for travel routes designated with signs for travel purposes.
  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), all-terrain cycles (ATCs), hang gliders, airboats, personal watercraft (jet-skis), and hovercraft are not allowed in WMAs unless specifically authorized.
  • Snowmobile operation in WMAs south of a specific line (described in the regulations) requires written permission from the DNR.

It's important to adhere to these regulations to protect the wildlife and natural habitat in WMAs.

Accessible Blinds

Several WMAs provide accessible hunting blinds for hunters with mobility issues. These include:

  • Carlos Avery WMA
  • Lac qui Parle WMA
  • Roseau River WMA
  • Talcot Lake WMA
  • Whitewater WMA

Reservations may be required for certain blinds, so it's advisable to call ahead for accessibility details and availability.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.