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Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

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The primary purposes of Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (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.

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. It also provides breeding habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, including many rare and endangered species.

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 (leaves DEC website) and lands owned by other conservation groups and private landowners with an interest in wildlife.

Cayuga Lake Unit of Northern Montezuma WMA

This portion of the WMA is located at the north end of Cayuga Lake in Seneca County, and is comprised of 225 acres of cattail marsh and wooded swamps. Approximately 138 acres of the 225 acres are owned by the Department of Transportation and managed by DEC under a temporary permit. WMA rules and regulations apply across this Unit.

Featured Activities



General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

Please stay on the designated trails to protect the diversity and richness of the plant communities found within this area.

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 8F

General information on hunting and general information on trapping include how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules, and regulations. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).

The great diversity of habitats at Northern Montezuma WMA provide excellent opportunities for both large and small game hunting. Deer and turkey hunting is popular, but there is also good rabbit, squirrel, woodcock, snipe, and grouse hunting. Pheasants are stocked annually and provide great upland bird hunting in the mix of grasslands and crop fields on the WMA. The hundreds of acres of marsh habitat on the WMA provide for quality furbearer trapping opportunities for muskrat, mink, and beaver.

However, Northern Montezuma WMA and the Montezuma Complex overall are best know for the quality waterfowl hunting opportunities. Canada goose, mallard, wood duck, green-winged teal, wigeon, and northern pintail are the predominant species harvested. Snow geese are often seen in large numbers and can be successfully hunted at Northern Montezuma WMA when the conditions are right and the large flocks cooperate.

There are also waterfowl and deer hunting opportunities at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (leaves DEC website). 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. 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 Hunter Education Program.



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

Most of the fishing on the WMA occurs in Crusoe Creek, the Seneca River, and the Seneca Barge Canal. Some of the impoundments also provide warmwater fisheries.



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

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 Vertebrate Checklist (PDF) and Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) as wildlife viewing guides.

Accessible Features


General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

The Montezuma Audubon Center is accessible; and a woodland wildlife trail and observation platform overlook 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.


The Northern Montezuma WMA is located in southeastern Wayne County and northwestern Cayuga County, near the towns of Savannah and Port Byron. It is located approximately midway between Rochester and Syracuse just north of the NYS Thruway.

Northern Montezuma Brown Sign

All Google links leave DEC website.

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 Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area must follow all Wildlife Management Area Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Activity Rules & Regulations

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 Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

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

View the Habitat Management Plan for Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (PDF, 8.38 MB), approved in February 2020, which identifies the WMA-specific target species and habitat goals for the WMA.

Partners in the Complex

All web links below in this section 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 in the Complex contact (NOTE: different rules and regulations regarding public access to these lands apply):
  • 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.

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