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Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area

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The primary purposes of Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This 444-acre WMA is part of the Great Swamp, a 19.8-mile long, 4,202-acre wetland of state significance and an important stopover for migrating waterfowl. While the state-owned WMA is a small part of the Great Swamp's total wetland acreage, abundant waterfowl can be found there as well as many other wildlife species.

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping

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trapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 3G

General information on hunting and general information on trapping include how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules, and regulations.

Hunting opportunities at the WMA include native small game species, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer. In addition, DEC stocks pheasants in the upland area off of Cornwall Hill Road. Furbearer species found in the WMA include red and gray fox, coyote, beaver, muskrat, mink, and bobcat. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).

Fishing

Fishing

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules, and regulations.

Wildlife

Wildlife viewing

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

Large numbers of black ducks, mallards, wood ducks, and Canada geese use the Great Swamp during migration. The area also provides significant breeding habitat for wood ducks, mallards, and Canada geese during all times of year except winter, when the East Branch Croton River channel is frozen.

Other common wildlife species in the Great Swamp include game and furbearer species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, migratory and resident songbirds, as well as numerous turtle, snake, frog, and salamander species. Black bears and moose are occasionally observed there as well. Use the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF, 453 KB) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF, 240 KB) as a wildlife viewing guide.

Directions

A pond with grassland and trees around it
A pond at Great Swamp WMA.
The Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area is composed of 10 separate parcels ranging from less than one acre to 300 acres in size. The largest parcel is located on Cornwall Hill Road (County Route 64), with parking available on the east side of the road about 1.5 miles south of NYS Route 311. Other large parcels are located on the east side of the East Branch of the Croton River about 0.5 miles south of Route 311 and on the east and west side of NYS Route 22 immediately south of Haviland Hollow Road. Formal access has yet to be developed in these locations.

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

All visitors to the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area must abide by the rules and restrictions posted on signs and/or kiosks on the property.

Activity Rules & Regulations

The following are not permitted in the Great Swamp WMA:

  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Motor boats

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).

How We Manage the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area

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Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Great Swamp WMA is managed by DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, and 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.

Much of the management that has occurred at the Great Swamp WMA has focused on enhancing wildlife habitat, controlling invasive plant species, and improving the experience of recreational users. Recent management activities include:

  • boundary posting;
  • construction of a six-car parking area and kiosk off of Cornwall Hill Road;
  • demolition of several derelict buildings;
  • planting of native tree and shrub species including grey, silky, and red osier dogwood and white spruce;
  • reclamation of approximately 10 acres of old field at the WMA through the mechanical removal of autumn olive, a non-native, highly invasive shrub species;
  • and planting of native grass species in fields to benefit meadow-dependent wildlife species.

In addition, several volunteer groups and individuals have stewardship (Adopt-a-Natural-Resource) agreements with the Department to collect trash at the WMA parking area, mow the trails at the WMA, place bluebird and wood duck nest boxes at the WMA, and conduct an annual youth pheasant hunting day.

The protection of the Great Swamp WMA is the culmination of a larger regional effort to protect the Great Swamp's 62,343-acre watershed stretching from the Town of Dover in Dutchess County south to the Town of Southeast in Putnam County. Several organizations including the Friends of the Great Swamp (FroGS) and The Nature Conservancy, as well as Putnam County and the Town of Patterson, have worked cooperatively with DEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (through funding from a North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant) to protect the Great Swamp. The Great Swamp WMA is the product of two acquisitions facilitated by the NAWCA grant, one in 2006 and the other in 2010.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

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

State Lands and Facilities

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.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions, and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories, or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.