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Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

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Northern Montezuma Small Map

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Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (WMA) The primary purposes of the Northern Montezuma WMA are wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. 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.

Featured Activities

Hunting & Trapping
Northern Montezuma WMA is located in Wildlife Management Unit 8F. 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 (Leaves DEC Webpage) are different there than on Northern Montezuma WMA. (View hunting seasons and trapping seasons)

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.

Fishing
Northern Montezuma WMA is open to fishing; please visit DEC's website for more information about fishing.

Wildlife Viewing
On Northern Montezuma WMA, 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. Use both the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF) (85KB) and Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) (240KB) as wildlife viewing guides.

Accessible Features

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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 Route 89 and south of Crusoe Creek.

Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.

Directions

Northern Montezuma Brown Sign

All Google links leave DEC website.

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.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Activity Rules & Regulations

The following activities are not permitted in Northern Montezuma WMA:

  • Unless specifically stated, using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming or bathing
  • Camping
  • Kindling fires
  • Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs or other property
  • Overnight storage of boats
  • Cutting, removing or damaging living vegetation
  • Construction of permanent blinds or other structures such as tree stands
  • Littering
  • Storage of personal property

Outdoor Safety Tips

NOTE: Ticks are active whenever temperatures are above freezing but especially so in the late spring and early fall. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases. More information on deer ticks and Lyme disease can be obtained from the NYS Department of Health (Leaves DEC Website). Also, practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.

How We Manage

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Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Northern Montezuma WMA is managed by DEC's Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing/photography). Funding to maintain and manage this site is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration or "Pittman-Robertson" Act, which is acquired through excise taxes on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment.

Partners in the Complex (Note: All links in this section below leave DEC 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.
  • For information on other public lands (NOTE: different rules and regulations regarding public access to these lands apply) in the Complex contact:
  • For information about federally owned areas in the Complex contact:
  • For information about the conservation land owned by TNC in the Complex contact:
    • The Nature Conservancy (Central and Western NY Chapter)
      1048 University Avenue
      Rochester, NY 14607
      Tel. (585) 546-8030
  • For information on operations of the Montezuma Audubon Center located 2 miles north of Savannah on State Route 89 within the Complex contact:
  • This non-profit organization provides support of habitat restoration, wildlife conservation and education; and serves as a general advocate for the combined mission of the partnership. Their quarterly newsletter, "Cattails", is a good way to stay in touch with all the Partners.

Tourism Information for Nearby Attractions, Amenities & Activities

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Web links below can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.