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Perch River Wildlife Management Area

Perch River WMA locator map

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Perch River Wetland
Wetland in Perch River WMA.

The primary purposes of Perch River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is a 7,932-acre parcel and is dominated by wetland and open water habitats, but also offers woodland, early successional, and grassland habitats.

The area is well known for its waterfowl and furbearer populations and also supports deer, upland small game, and variety of unique non-game species. The grasslands are mowed periodically in late summer to inhibit brush growth and maintain the diversity of habitat that make Perch River so attractive to wildlife. Water levels in the impoundments are managed to provide stable open water and emergent marsh habitat for the waterfowl and other water-dependent bird and furbearer species found on the WMA.

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 6G

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

Special entry and permit restrictions are in place at this WMA to protect key habitats and provide high-quality hunting opportunities. Perch River WMA Wetland Regulations lists permitted hunting opportunities and describes access restrictions.

This WMA is divided into three zones: refuge, restricted use, and public use. With the exception of an annual open house, during which the entire WMA is open to the public for two weeks in late August, there is no public access allowed in the refuge areas. In the Restricted Area (see Perch River WMA map), there is no public access during most of the spring and summer, but controlled hunting and trapping are allowed during the fall and winter. Hunters must register to enter the area on each day they hunt. Trapping is by seasonal permit. The public use zone is open year-round.

Perch River WMA is renowned for its excellent waterfowl hunting. A wide variety of waterfowl species and other water bird species can be found on the area during the spring and fall migrations. Deer and small game hunting are popular. Woodcock, ruffed grouse, and turkeys, along with the pheasants that are stocked during the fall, provide diverse opportunities for upland bird hunting. Cottontail rabbits and grey squirrels are also common.

Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).



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



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

Perch River WMA is recognized for its observation opportunities. The observation tower and Mosentine overlook along Vaadi Road and the overlook parking area on Allen Road provide good observation points for birdwatchers. Use the Wildlife Management Area Vertebrate Checklist (PDF) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) as wildlife viewing guides.

Perch River Wildlife Management Area was designated as a Bird Conservation Area. High quality wetlands and open water bordered by deciduous forest, shrubland, and open agricultural fields provide habitat for American bittern (special concern), least bittern (threatened), osprey (special concern), bald eagle (threatened), 50-60 breeding pairs of black terns (endangered), sedge wren (threatened), and Henslow's sparrow (threatened).

Many other characteristic wetland species breed here including pied-billed grebe (threatened), trumpeter swan, Virginia rail, sora, common moorhen, American coot, marsh wren, and swamp sparrow. Open water serves as foraging area for Caspian tern, common tern, black tern, pied-billed grebe, osprey, bald eagle, and many other species.

Perch River brown sign


The WMA is located in central Jefferson County, five miles northwest of the City of Watertown. State Route 12 runs through the lower third of the Perch River marsh and has a parking area. The primary access points for recreationists are along the Vaadi, Dog Hill, and Allen roads.

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 Perch River 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 Perch River Wildlife Management Area

wildlife restoration logo

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Perch River 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 Perch River Wildlife Management Area (PDF, 8.5 MB), approved in September 2021, which identifies the WMA-specific target species and habitat goals for the WMA.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

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.

Perch River WMA Wetlands Regulations

The following special regulations apply to users of the areas posted as WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA. Users of the areas posted as State Land Wildlife Management Area should follow the general Wildlife Management Area regulations.

Specific Hunting Regulations

Hunter access to the WETLANDS RESTRICTED AREA is by permit registration only. Hunters must sign in using the registration book located at the check station on Vaadi Road.

Small Game Hunting

The WETLAND RESTRICTED AREA is open for small game hunting during appropriate seasons as follows:

September Canada Goose Hunting Season: Hunting is permitted from one-half hour before sunrise until 12:00 noon and hunters must leave the area by 2:00 PM.

Northeastern Zone Waterfowl Hunting Season: Hunters must sign in at the registration box at the permit station on the day of the hunt. Hunting is permitted from one-half hour before sunrise until 12:00 noon and hunters must leave the restricted area by 2:00 PM.

All other small game hunting: Statewide regulations apply. Access is by foot only.

Big Game Hunting

Statewide regulations apply. Access is by foot only.


Permits are available for both the spring and fall seasons by contacting the Bureau of Wildlife at the Watertown office at (315) 785-2238.