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Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

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northern montezuma wma

The Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area, formally known as Howland Island Wildlife Management Area, is located in north central Cayuga County three miles northwest of Port Byron and approximately 25 miles west of Syracuse. The area consists of approximately 3600 acres which is divided into three units; Howland Island, 3100 acres; Bluff Point Unit, 388 acres and the Way-Cay Unit, 114 acres. The Seneca River and the Barge Canal form the water boundaries for Howland Island and Bluff Point Island.

Northern Montezuma WMA

Featured Activities

  • Hunting & Trapping (Wildlife Management Unit 8F)
    White-tailed deer, waterfowl and variety of small game species offer ample hunting opportunities (View hunting seasons and trapping seasons).
  • Fishing
    Fishing is permitted. A fishing access site allows fishing and boat access to the Barge Canal
    Fishing Information for the area, and fishing access maps are available.
  • Wildlife Viewing- Resident wildlife (especially deer and song birds) and fall migrations of shore birds and waterfowl offer the bird watcher and/or photographer unlimited opportunities for pursuing their hobbies There are several viewing sites on this WMA; see the maps for their exact locations. Wildlife associated with wetlands dominate this area as all species of waterfowl that migrate up and down the Atlantic coast occur here either as a resident species or a visitor during the spring and fall migrations
    • Mammals- white tailed deer, cotton tail rabbit, coyotes, mink, fisher, beaver, muskrat, squirrel and more.
      Use the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF) (85 KB) as a wildlife viewing guide.
    • Birds- Local birders have identified more than 220 birds that may be seen on the area during the year, and of these, approximately 108 species are considered local breeders. duck, geese, wild turkey, woodcock, ruffed grouse, song birds and more.
      Use the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) (240 KB) as a wildlife viewing guide.
  • Hiking/Cross Country Skiing/Snowshoeing
    There are two trails on the WMA. One is located in the northwestern section of the property and is an accessible trail. The other is in the southwestern section of the WMA. Maintenance roads are available as hiking trails to all parts of Howland Island and can be used by the bird watcher, hiker, equestrian, or naturalist during most times of the year
  • Paddling and Boating
    There are two trailered boat launch areas on the northern half of the property. There is a car top launch site off of Railroad Road in the northern section of the WMA. There is also a dock off of Route 139. On the southern half of the WMA there is a trailered boat launch and a dock; see the maps for more information.

Accessible Features

There is accessible parking as well as an accessible trail, blind and viewing site on the WMA. See the maps for exact locations.


The area can be reached via NY Route 31 west (from Thruway Exit 40 at Weedsport) to NY Route 38 in Port Byron and then two miles north to Howland Island Road. There are various parking areas on the WMA. RAiraod Raod car top boat launching is located at: The 7 ½ minute topographic map covering the area is Montezuma.

The viewing platform and observation tower along with the Seneca Trail are located north of Route 20/5.

Get Google Map Driving Directions (Link leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

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Activity Rules & Regulations:

Outdoor Safety Tips:

How We Manage Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

wildlife restoration with deer photo

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area 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.

A variety of wildlife management techniques are used to provide the food, cover and shelter requirements of various wildlife species. Primary management efforts are directed toward waterfowl with benefits to many other species. Techniques utilized include practices such as water control, water level manipulation, mowing, prescribed burning, timber sales, hunting, crop rotation, construction of nesting structures, preservation and perpetuation of certain habitats, and maintain a diversity of habitats.


The area was settled in the early 1800's after which most of the elm, maple, and oak trees were cleared to make way for farming. Farming was continued until the 1920's after which the land became idle. In 1932 Howland Island was purchased as a game refuge. Between 1933 and 1941 a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp was established and 18 earth dikes were constructed to create about 300 acres of water impoundments.

After the water impoundments were created, the area was managed for migrating waterfowl, but even more important at the time was an extensive pheasant farm operation that produced both eggs and pheasants. In 1951 the pheasant work was terminated and a special waterfowl research project and the artificial propagation of duck species exotic to New York were undertaken. Since 1962, the area has been managed primarily for the natural production of waterfowl.

Area topography rises from low lying flood plains to gently rolling hills or steep drumlins. Vegetation consists of a second growth mixture of hardwoods such as maple, ash, willow, basswood, black locust, oak and hickory. A few of the shrub species are gray-stem, and red-osier dogwood, arrowroot, sumac, alder, and spicebush.

Old fields, meadow, farm fields, wetlands, impoundments and hardwoods provide a diversity of habitats and a diversity of wildlife. Deer, raccoon, fox, squirrels, skunk, rabbits and an occasional opossum are some of the larger mammals of the 46 species on the area.

Tourism Information for Nearby Attractions, Amenities & Activities

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    Region 7
    1285 Fisher Avenue
    Cortland, NY 13045
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