There are at least four sources of rules and regulations applicable to the Don Edwards S.F. Bay NWR:
- Refuge regulations
- State regulations
- Unit-specific regulations
- Rules posted online or at the refuge or unit
On this page, you’ll find (a) general info about the refuge, (b) a topical summary of refuge-specific rules and regulations, (c) a map of the refuge, (d) text of applicable rules and regulations gathered from multiple resources, and (e) other useful information and links. Warning shots!!! Look for any additional rules posted at the refuge, unit or area. Follow the links below for similar summaries of unit-specific rules and regulations, hunt maps, driving directions, links, etc.:
- Salt Ponds
- Alviso Ponds AB1, A2E, AB2, A3N & A3W
- Alviso Ponds A5, A7 & A8
- Mowry Slough Ponds M1 – M6
- Ravenswood Ponds R1 and R2
A. General Refuge Info
- Waterfowl hunting: geese, ducks and coots (no moorhens)
- Sport fishing: see Par. C below
- Administrator: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS“)
- CDFW Region: Region 3 (Bay Delta)
- Complex: S.F. Bay NWR Complex
- County: Alameda County
- Directions: available on the Refuge website
- Phone number: Refuge Manager, 510-792-0222
- Waterfowl zone: Balance of State WF Zone
- Website: Don Edwards S.F. Bay NWR
B. Waterfowl Hunting Info (All Ponds and Tidal Areas)
- Access: varies by unit, pond and area
- Accidents or injuries: immediately report to the Refuge Manager, (510) 792-0222
- ADA: there are blinds with access by mobility-impaired hunters
- Location: on the levee of Pond A2E.
- Reservation: up to two weeks ahead of time by calling (510) 792-0222 (ext. 363) between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM Tuesday through Sunday.
- Qualifications: Anyone may reserve an ADA blind if they need to use a more accessible blind for health reasons (i.e., has to use a walker, wheelchair, leg cast, heart condition, etc.).
- Alcohol: possession or use is NOT allowed while hunting
- Annual meeting: the Waterfowl Hunter Program Coordinator holds an annual meeting. Warning shot!!! The presentation may be downloaded online
- Bag limits: see Balance of State waterfowl zone
- Blinds: use varies by unit, pond or area
- Boats: varies by unit
- Camping: NOT allowed
- Closed areas:
- Dumbarton Point Marsh
- Mallard Slough headwaters
- Newark Slough
- Outside the toe (bottom) of the levee in tidal marsh areas
- PG&E boardwalks and towers
- Tidal marsh areas
- Warning shots!!! Signs may be posted to identify temporary closures for habitat restoration, wildlife management practices, or other Refuge operations.
- Check stations: sign in is ONLY required for Alviso Ponds. except for Pond A19 located near the Mowry Ponds
- Dogs: (a) to remain under control at all times, (b) keep in vehicle or on a leash until reaching pond or levee to hunt, and (c) training is NOT allowed (link to our summary of dog use regulations)
- Fires: NOT allowed
- Gates: Hunters must shut and lock all gates behind them. If the Refuge combo lock is not on the gate, no motor vehicle access is allowed that day due to Refuge operations. Warning shot!!! To get the gate combination, see “Permits” below
- Hunt Areas: vary by unit, pond or area
- Hunt days: varies by unit, pond and area
- Hunt fee: none this year
- Hunt map: general (also see unit-specific maps)
- Inspections: all hunters are subject to inspection of persons, property, equipment, licenses, permits, vehicles and their contents, during compliance checks by Wildlife Officers
- Juniors: all hunters under the age of 16 must possess and carry a Junior Hunting License and a HIP Validation (visit California Hunting Fees and Descriptions)
- License & ID: all hunters 16 years of age or older must possess a:
- California hunting license
- Signed Federal Duck Stamp
- California Duck Validation
- Free Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation
- Photo identification (e.g. driver’s license).
- Littering: NOT allowed (e.g. trash, debris, shotshell hulls, etc.)
- Non-hunters: each hunter can have up to two non-hunters with them on the Refuge
- Permits: required ONLY for hunting any salt pond except for AlvisoPondA19, which is a tidal area
- Procedures: obtain by following Refuge procedures, which are available online
- Revocation: permits may be revoked by the Refuge Manager or Refuge Officers for any alleged or suspected violation of these regulations
- Personal property: remove by sunset (e.g. decoys, shell hulls and casings, trash)
- Refuge hours:
- Opens: two (2) hours before shoot time begins
- Closes: one (1) hour after shoot time ends
- Retrieval: see “Dogs” and “Hunt areas” above
- Season: see Balance of State waterfowl zone
- Shells: 25 max while hunting (more may be retrieved from your vehicle)
- Shooting: no target practice or non-hunting discharge
- Shot: ONLY steel or other non-toxic shot approved by the USFWS–NO lead shot
- Shotguns: to remain unloaded until reaching hunt areas
- ATV’s: NOT allowed, e.g. three-wheeler, four-wheeler, etc.
- Gates: see “Gates” above
- Parking: ONLY in a manner which does not block roads or gates
- Roads: restricted to designated roads shown on the map. Warning shot!!! DO NOT drive on the levees when they are wet. Once bay mud starts to collect on your tires, back out immediately. Wet bay mud is extremely slippery.
- Speed limit: 15 mph on levees. Warning shot!!! Use extreme caution while driving on levees/trails, bridges and trailhead intersections as trail users are not expecting vehicles.
- Water control structures: NO tampering (e.g. opening or closing screw gates)
C. Sport Fishing
- Boats: closed in Mallard Slough from Mar. 1 – Aug. 31
- Bait Fishing: no bait fishing from the refuge except Dumbarton Fishing Pier when legal
- Balloon Fishing: prohibited when floating bait farther than hand casting would allow
- Closures: (a) Mallard Slough—closed to boats from Mar. 1 – Aug. 31; (b) Mowry Slough—closed from Mar. 15 to Jun. 15; (c) Salt Evaporation Ponds: ponds and marshes closed year-round; and (d) Dumbarton Fishing Pier: pier and adjacent shoreline closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
- Coyote Creek Lagoon.: (a) day fishing allowed; (b) no night fishing
- Dumbarton Fishing Pier: fishing allowed (a) from 7 AM; (b) to 6 PM in Nov. – Mar.; (c) to 8 PM in Apr. – Oct.; (c) closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day; and (d) bait collection is allowed when otherwise legal
- Faber-Laumeister Unit: (a) day fishing allowed; (b) no night fishing
- Fish Area: only (a) from boat in the SF Bay and major sloughs and (b) on shore in the (i) Coyote Crk. Lgn. in Fremont, (ii) Faber-Laumeister Unit in E. Palo Alto, (iii) Dumbarton Fishing Pier, and (iv) along the SF Bay shoreline w/i half mile of Dumbarton Fishing Pier and (b) boat in the Bay
- Fishing Days: (a) Open daily except Dumbarton Fishing Pier and adjacent shoreline closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
- Fishing Hours: (a) Dumbarton Fishing Pier: (a) from 7 AM to 6 PM (Nov. – Mar.) and 8 PM (Apr. – Oct.) and (b) Coyote Creek Lagoon and Faber-Laumeister Unit from legal sunrise to legal sunset
- Jet skis: prohibited
- Mallard Slough: closed to boats in Mar. through August
- Methods of Take: (a) balloon fishing is prohibited when floating bait farther than hand casting and (b) no personal watercraft (Jet Skis and water-bikes)
- Mowry Slough: closed Mar. 15 – Jun. 15
- Night-fishing: no night fishing (a) Dumbarton Fishing Pier closes between 6 PM and 8 PM, (b) Coyote Crk. Lgn. and Faber-Laumeister Unit is closes at legal sunset
- Salt Evaporation Ponds: no fishing ponds or marshes
- SF Bay: (a) fishing from shore allowed w/in half mile of Dumbarton Fishing Pier and (b) by boat in the Bay and major sloughs (e.g. Alviso Slough)
- State Regulations: applicable
- Water bikes: prohibited
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Unless posted in the field and/or noted below, we allow hunting by boat in all refuge tidal areas up to the mean high-water line. We close the following tidal areas to hunting and/or shooting:
i. Newark Slough to hunting and shooting from its source to Hetch-Hetchy Aqueduct, a distance of 31⁄2 miles (5.6 km);
ii. Dumbarton Point Marsh to the Hetch-Hetchy Aqueduct (west side of Newark Slough); and
iii. The headwaters of Mallard Slough (Artesian Slough) in the vicinity of the Environmental Education Center to hunting, as designated by posted signs.
2. We allow hunting in the 17 salt evaporation ponds listed below. These ponds are surrounded by levees and were formerly part of the San Francisco Bay. We have not opened any other ponds.
i. Ponds R1 and R2 in the Ravenswood Unit. These ponds are located on the west side of the Dumbarton Bridge between Ravenswood Slough and Highway 84. You may access these ponds only by foot or bicycle from either of two trailheads off Highway 84. We prohibit hunting within 300 feet (90 m) of Highway 84. These ponds will be open 7 days a week.
ii. Ponds M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, and A19 in the Mowry Slough Unit. These ponds are located on the east side of the Bay between Mowry Slough and Coyote Creek. You may only access these ponds by boat. You may land your boat at specific points on the Bay side of the levee as designated by refuge signs. You may pull your boat across the levee from the Bay. We prohibit hunting within 300 feet (90 m) of the Union Pacific Railroad track. These ponds will be open 7 days a week.
iii. Ponds AB1, A2E, AB2, A3N, and A3W in the Alviso Unit. These ponds are located on the west side of the Bay between Stevens Creek and Guadalupe Slough. You must obtain a refuge Special Use Permit to hunt these ponds. Access to Ponds AB1 and A2E will be from the Crittenden Lane Trailhead in Mountain View. Access to Ponds A3W will be from the Carl Road Trailhead in Sunnyvale. Access to Ponds A3N and AB2 is by boat from the other ponds. We allow hunting only from existing hunting blinds. We allow hunting only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays on these ponds.
iv. Ponds A5, A7, and A8N in the Alviso Unit. These ponds are located on the south end of the Bay between Guadalupe Slough and Alviso Slough. You must obtain a refuge Special Use Permit to hunt these ponds. Access is via walking and bicycling from the Gold Street gate in Alviso. We allow hunting from existing hunting blinds and by walking pond levees. We allow hunting only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays on these ponds.
3. During the 2 weekends before the opening of the hunt season, you may bring a boat into Ponds AB1, A2E, AB2, A3N, A3W, A5, A7, and A8N and moor it at a designated site only if authorized by a valid refuge Special Use Permit. These boats will be used to access the hunting blinds and will stay in the pond during the hunt season. You must remove your boat within 2 weeks following the close of the hunt season. We allow nonmotorized boats and motorized boats powered by electric or 4-stroke gasoline motors only.
4. You may maintain an existing blind in the ponds open to hunting if you have a valid refuge Special Use Permit, but the blind will be open for general use on a first-come, first-served basis. We prohibit pit blinds or digging into the levees (see §27.92 of this chapter).
5. You must remove all decoys and other personal property (except personal boats authorized by a refuge Special Use Permit) from the refuge by legal sunset. You must remove all trash, including shotshell hulls, when leaving hunting areas (see §§27.93 and 27.94 of this chapter).
6. Hunters may enter closed areas of the refuge to retrieve downed birds, provided they leave all weapons in a legal hunting area. We encourage the use of retriever dogs. You must keep your dog(s) under immediate control of the handler at all times (see §26.21(b) of this chapter). Dogs must remain inside a vehicle or be on a leash until they are on the ponds or on the levees (Ponds R1, 2, A5, 7, and 8N only) as a part of the hunt.
7. You may possess only approved nontoxic shot while in the field (see §32.2(k)).
8. You must keep firearms unloaded (see §27.42(b) of this chapter) until you are within the designated hunt area.
9. We prohibit target practice on the refuge or any nonhunting discharge of firearms (see §27.42 of this chapter).
10. At the Ravenswood Unit only, we only allow portable blinds or construction of temporary blinds of natural materials that readily decompose. We prohibit collection of these natural materials from the refuge (see §27.51 of this chapter). You must remove portable blinds (see §§27.93 and 27.94 of this chapter) by legal sunset. Temporary blinds become available for general use on a first-come, first-served basis on subsequent days. We prohibit permanent blinds, pit blinds, or digging into the levees (see §27.92 of this chapter). We prohibit entry into closed areas of the refuge prior to the hunt season in order to scout for hunting sites or to build blinds.
B. Upland Game Hunting. [Reserved]
C. Big Game Hunting. [Reserved]
D. Sport Fishing. We allow fishing on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations subject to the following conditions:
1. We allow fishing from land at the Coyote Creek Lagoon in Fremont, the Faber-Laumeister Unit in East Palo Alto, the Dumbarton Fishing Pier, and along the San Francisco Bay shoreline within 1⁄2 mile (0.8 km) of the Dumbarton Fishing Pier. We also allow fishing from boats in the Bay and major slough channels. We close Mallard Slough to boats from March 1 through August 31, and we close Mowry Slough from March 15 to June 15. We prohibit fishing in salt evaporation ponds or marshes.
2. We open fishing areas daily (except we close the Dumbarton Fishing Pier and adjacent shoreline on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day). We open the Dumbarton Fishing Pier from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. November 1 through March 31 and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 1 through October 31. We open Coyote Creek Lagoon and Faber-Laumeister Unit from legal sunrise to legal sunset.
3. We prohibit the collection of bait of any type from the refuge except from the Dumbarton Fishing Pier, where it is legal to collect bait for noncommercial purposes.
4. We prohibit the use of balloons to float hooks and bait farther than hand casting.
5. We prohibit personal watercraft (e.g., Jet Skis, waterbikes) on the refuge.
E. Links & References
- Refuge webpage: Waterfowl Hunting Information
- CDFW webpage: Waterfowl Regulations
- USFWS: Your Guide to Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges [pdf download]