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Northern Montezuma

Wildlife Management Area

Northern Montezuma WMA Region 8 Map

View Map of Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (PDF, 1.8 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper

History and Features:

The Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in southeastern Wayne County and northwestern Cayuga County, near the towns of Savannah and Port Byron. It is located approximately mid-way between Rochester and Syracuse just north of the NYS Thruway. This WMA is part of the 50,000 acre Montezuma Wetlands Complex, which is known to be a globally significant, important bird staging and breeding area within the Atlantic Flyway.

In addition to the state-owned Northern Montezuma WMA (which includes the former Howland's Island WMA), the Complex includes the federally-owned Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and lands owned by other conservation groups and private land owners with an interest in wildlife.

The Complex presents one of the best opportunities in the Northeast to protect, restore, and manage an extensive wetland system for wildlife and public enjoyment. The entire Complex is located in what was historically called the Montezuma Swamp, one of the largest wetland systems in the Northeast. This vast area once supported over 40,000 acres of contiguous wetland habitat, extending northward from Cayuga Lake almost to Lake Ontario. Most of this swamp was drained in the early 1900s for commerce and transportation by the development of the Erie and New York State Barge Canals. Draining the area made it possible to clear and farm the rich organic soils generated over time under the marshlands. Despite the loss of 70% of these original wetlands, the area still functions as a major migratory stopover site for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds in the Atlantic Flyway. It also provides breeding habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, including many rare and endangered species.

DEC and the Partners

The following links all leave DEC's website.

This landscape-level project has been ongoing since 1991, when the DEC dedicated their resources to the partnership. Approximately 7,500 acres of public land is managed by the DEC in the Complex. Other public lands in the Complex are managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Different rules and regulations regarding public access to these lands apply. Contact the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at 3395 US Route 20 East, Seneca Falls, New York 13148, (315) 568-5987 for information about federally owned areas. For information about the conservation land owned by TNC, contact The Nature Conservancy (Central and Western NY Chapter) at 1048 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, (585) 546-8030.

In 2007, Audubon NY joined the Complex partnership and now operates the Montezuma Audubon Center located 2 miles north of Savannah on State Route 89.

The Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex is another important partner in the Complex. This non-profit organization supports habitat restoration, wildlife conservation and education, and generally serves as an advocate for the combined mission of the partnership. Their quarterly newsletter, "Cattails", is a good way to stay in touch with all Partners.

Recreational Opportunities

On NMWMA, emergent marshes and impoundments, forested wetlands, old fields, meadows, farm fields and woodlands provide a diversity of habitats for wildlife and public use. Abundant resident wildlife and huge spring and fall migrations of shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl and songbirds offer excellent opportunities for all kinds of wildlife recreational activities. Public hunting, trapping and fishing are encouraged in accordance with State Fish and Wildlife Laws and Regulations. Hiking, biking and canoeing are encouraged. Prohibited activities include motorized vehicles beyond barrier gates, use of off-road vehicles, motorized boating, overnight mooring of boats, swimming, camping, removal or destruction of vegetation, and littering.

accessible recreation logo

Accessible Features: The Montezuma Audubon Center is accessible; and a woodland wildlife trail and observation platform overlooks restored wetlands. Also, a combination waterfowl hunting, birding and photography blind is located near the Audubon Center on the east side of Rt 89 and south of Crusoe Creek.

Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.

For more information contact:

The Northern Montezuma Wetlands Project Office
1385 Morgan Road, Savannah, New York 13146
Phone: (315) 365-2134 Fax: (315) 365-3056

Northern Montezuma Facility Information
Activity Availability
Upland Yes
Wetland Yes
Hiking Trails* Yes
Nature Trails* Yes
Boat Access Yes
Parking Lot Yes
Viewing Tower No
Scenic Vistas Yes
Picnic Areas Yes
Restrooms Yes**
Birdwatching Yes
Camping No
X-Country Skiing Yes
Snowshoeing Yes
Hunting Yes
Fishing Yes
Trapping Yes
Endangered Species Yes
Unusual Plants Yes

* A nature trail can be used as a hiking trail, a hiking trail differs from a nature trails in that a nature trail usually has printed information along the trails and often has a brochure.

** Restrooms are located in Audubon Center. The Center is open during peak times, including weekends.

Hunting at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

There are waterfowl and deer hunting opportunities at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. This area is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and rules associated with access and hunting are different there than on Northern Montezuma WMA. Please be sure to read the Hunting Regulations for Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (PDF) (663 kB) or contact the Refuge at the number listed below.

The 2015 Youth Waterfowl Season for New York's Western Zone is scheduled for Saturday, October 3 and Sunday, October 4. The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge will participate by hosting a Youth Waterfowl Hunt on Saturday, October 3 at the refuge's Tschache Pool. During the youth season, only hunters ages 12 to 15 are allowed to hunt. A mentor (a licensed parent or guardian) must accompany the youth while hunting. To register for the youth hunt at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, you must call the Refuge's Hunter Check Station, (315) 568-4136, on Thursday, September 24, between 8:30 and 9:00 AM, to make your reservation.

The refuge will open to the regular New York State Waterfowl Hunting Season on Saturday, October 24, 2015. Waterfowl hunting on the refuge will take place at Tschache Pool and the Sandhill Crane Unit on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings during the first split of New York State's season; reservations will be taken from 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. each hunt day. Reservations for the next hunt day are taken the hunt day before. For example, if you want to hunt on Thursday, you call in on Tuesday. Call-in reservations for Opening Day will be Thursday, October 15, from 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Please call (315) 568-4136 for reservations; reservations are taken on a first-call/first-served basis.

All waterfowl hunters on the Refuge must possess a current New York state hunting license and have a current Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number. All adult hunters and adult mentors of youth hunters must also have a current Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp). A non-motorized boat or canoe is required to hunt at Tschache Pool, and use of a trained hunting dog is strongly advised. A New York State Waterfowl Identification class is required to hunt the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (you must show proof of class completion when you check in to hunt at the refuge). You can check for waterfowl identification class availability with the Sportsman Education Program.