State Wildlife Refuge
Located on the southwestern shore of Vermilion Bay, State Wildlife Refuge is bordered by the Audubon/Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary to the west and Marsh Island Refuge to the east. Mr. Edward McIlhenny and Mr. Charles Ward donated this tract of marshland habitat to the state in 1911 for public use.
Since State Wildlife Refuge was established, LDWF has focused on managing the property’s natural resources through a variety of techniques including trapping overabundant marsh rodents such as nutria and muskrat, controlled burning, and constructing sheet piling weirs to deter highly saline waters from entering the marshes and to prevent total retreat of water at low tides.
State Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of wildlife—alligators, shorebirds, wading birds, colonial seabirds, shrimp, blue crabs, red drum, spotted seatrout, and mammals such as raccoons, muskrats, nutria, mink, and white-tailed deer. Periodically, overgrazing by herbivores (primarily muskrat, nutria, and snow geese) significantly damage the marsh at the refuge and potentially lead to permanent marsh loss.
A number of waterfowl species use State Wildlife Refuge throughout the year, and the refuge provides important waterfowl wintering habitat in Vermilion Bay. LDWF uses marsh management techniques such as controlled marsh burning and water level management to promote waterfowl habitat.
Activities and Amenities
Although hunting is prohibited on the refuge, there are plenty of opportunities for other recreational activities such as fishing, shrimping, crabbing, and birding. See below regulations for details.
State Wildlife Refuge is located about 6 miles southeast of Intracoastal City and can only be accessed by watercraft.
- Use of the refuge will be allowed from official sunrise to official sunset. This includes access routes through the refuge.
- Overnight camping is prohibited.
- Hunting, pursuing, killing, molesting or intentionally disturbing any type of wildlife by the public is prohibited. This does not prohibit LDWF from carrying out harvest programs for certain types of wildlife as specified in the deed of donation.
- Commercial and recreational trawling on the refuge is prohibited. Recreational trotlines, jug lines, trammel nets, gill nets, hoop nets and fish and crab traps are prohibited. All commercial fishing and use of any commercial fishing gear on the refuge is prohibited. Twenty-five pounds of shrimp (heads on) per boat or vehicle per day is allowed during the inside open shrimp season as established by the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. Ten pounds of shrimp (heads on) for bait purposes may be caught during the closed season. Shrimp may be harvested only by cast net on the refuge and only for sport fishing or home consumption use. Containers are required to receive cast net catches to prevent littering and for safety purposes.
- Crawfish may be harvested from the open portion of the refuge and 100 pounds per boat or vehicle is allowed per day. Set nets may be used but must be attended and removed from the refuge daily. No commercial harvest is allowed.
- Crabs may be harvested from the open portion of the refuge; and 12 dozen crabs are allowed per boat or vehicle per day. A maximum of 12 crab nets is allowed per boat or vehicle. No commercial harvest is allowed.
- Oysters may be harvested by tonging (properly licensed) or by hand collection from the natural reefs. One gallon per boat or vehicle per day is allowed and oysters must be opened at the reef and the shells returned to the reef. Taking of oysters on the reef is dependent upon Department of Health and Hospitals' approval and may be closed at any time by LDWF.
- The burning of the marsh by the public is prohibited. Water control structures shall not be tampered with or altered by anyone other than employees of LDWF.
- Bringing firearms, bows and arrows, liquor and controlled dangerous substances (drugs) onto the refuge is prohibited. Personal companion animals (e.g., dogs) are restricted to boats or vehicles unless prior approval is obtained from the refuge supervisor. Upon probable cause a violation has occurred, all boats and vehicles are subject to search by all authorized employees of LDWF.
- Speedboat racing, airboats, hovercraft, jet skis, and waterskiing are prohibited. All boat traffic shall honor no wake zones and shall keep wave wash to a minimum. Pulling boats over or around levees, dams or water control structures is prohibited. LDWF may further restrict specified areas of the refuge from public access or use.
- No littering is allowed. Visitors must remove their litter or place litter in appropriate litter disposal sites. Damage to or removal of trees, shrubs and wild plants without prior approval is prohibited.
- Commercial fishing gear or trawls shall not be permitted in possession while participating in sport fishing on the refuge. Commercial fishing gear may be in possession for nonstop access directly across refuge or for safe harbor only.
- LDWF officials and enforcement officers shall have the duty and the right to restrict access to the refuge, even for the purpose herein enumerated, whenever the circumstances exist that such access may impair the primary purpose of the refuge as a wildlife refuge and sanctuary.
- Aircraft, personal watercraft and “mud crawling vessels” (commonly referred to as crawfish combines which use paddle wheels for locomotion) are prohibited on all WMAs and refuges.