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Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area

Three Mile Bay WMA locator map

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On Monday, March 29, 2021, DEC hosted a virtual session to provide information and answer questions about the completed habitat management plan (PDF) for Three Mile Bay WMA. Follow this link to view the recording. Questions can be sent by email with the subject line "Three Mile Bay HMP."

The primary purposes of Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is 3,966 acres in size and is adjacent to Three Mile Bay on Oneida Lake's north shore. It is situated in southern Oswego County, approximately six miles east of the village of Central Square and two miles from NY Route 49.

The WMA is generally low and flat with several ridges or islands extending across the interior. Elevations vary from 369 to 439 feet with most of the area not exceeding 30 feet above Oneida Lake. The muck-peat and acid sand soils have a strong influence on the vegetation. The majority of the area is swamp hardwood with soft maple (silver, red) predominating; upland portions contain mixed hardwoods such as soft maple, white pine, white cedar, ashes, oaks, and hickories. Abandoned farmland on the swamp border have been encroached upon completely by spirea, high bush cranberry, dogwood, aspen, pin-cherry, birch, and other pioneer species.

Initial acreage for Three Mile Bay WMA was acquired in the 1950s with Pittman Robertson Funds. Additional acreage was acquired under the 1962 Recreational Bond Act. The purpose for the original acquisition was for the development of waterfowl habitat.

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 7F

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

Grassland in Three Mile Bay WMA.
Grassland in Three Mile Bay WMA.

White-tailed deer, waterfowl and variety of small game species offer ample hunting opportunities. 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.

A fishing access site on Phillips Point provides fisherman access to Oneida Lake.


Wildlife Watching

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

Resident wildlife (especially deer and song birds) and fall migrations of waterfowl offer the bird watcher and/or photographer unlimited opportunities for pursing their hobbies. Waterfowl are the primary wildlife species seen on the WMA. Some waterfowl breed in the area, while migrants utilize Oneida Lake and Three Mile Bay WMA for resting and feeding during spring and fall.

Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area is designated as a Bird Conservation Area. The site is a regular hot spot for spring migrating waterfowl. Examples include 5,000 scaup in 2000 and 2,600 scaup in 2003. Wood ducks are also reported to use the site in fall in numbers from 2,000 in the past to 400 in 2005. Several pairs of pied-billed grebes also breed here. Breeding prothonotary warbler and cerulean warbler numbers are locally high. At least 90 great blue heron nests are found in a flooded hardwood swamp. American bittern and least bittern are probable breeders and black-crowned night-heron is a possible breeder. Species of concern include: pied-billed grebe (threatened), least bittern (threatened), northern harrier (threatened), American bittern (special concern), osprey (special concern), Cooper's hawk (special concern), red-shouldered hawk (special concern), and cerulean warbler (special concern). Sedge wren (threatened) was recently recorded singing in the breeding season but nesting has not been confirmed. Henslow's sparrow (threatened) historically bred here in 1980s-90s.

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

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Exit I-81 at Route 49. Follow Rt. 49 east to Todd Harbor Road. Turn right and parking is on your left. One can also access the WMA by continuing east on Rt. 49 past Todd Harbor Road and turning right onto Lower Road. Follow Lower Road to West Road and make a sharp right to reach deep into the WMA where there is parking. The 7½ minute topographic maps covering the area are Cicero and Mallory.

All Google links leave DEC website.

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

Rules, Regulations & 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 Three Mile Bay 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.

Activity Rules & Regulations:

The following activities are not permitted at Three Mile Bay WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming or bathing
  • Camping
  • Using metal detectors, searching for or removing historic or cultural artifacts without a permit
  • 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).

Wildlife Restoration

How We Manage Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Three Mile Bay 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.

Current objectives for the management area are to provide habitat for the use of a variety of wildlife with the primary emphasis on waterfowl species. Management techniques involved include practices such as mowing, prescribed burning, construction of nesting structures, preservation and perpetuation of certain habitats, and maintaining a diversity of habitat. Timber stand improvement and harvesting timber are conducted to improve the forestry resource and wildlife values. View the Habitat Management Plan for Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area (PDF), approved in June 2020, which identifies the WMA-specific target species and habitat goals for the WMA.

A special agreement permits the New York State Department of Health to operate a field laboratory for the purpose of conducting its encephalitis investigations.

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.