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Motor Island Wildlife Management Area

Motor Island WMA locator map

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  • Open for Recreation: Access onto the island, including the beach area, is closed to the public. Limited use offshore is allowed (e.g., wildlife viewing and waterfowl hunting).
  • Fee: Free
  • Contact Information:
    • DEC Region 9 Allegany Office (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:00PM), (716) 372-0645;
    • Enforcement Matters: (518) 408-5850 (24/7)
  • Location: Town of Grand Island, Niagara County
  • Wildlife Management Unit: 9A
  • Map: Motor Island WMA Map (PDF) || Google Earth || DECinfo Locator

Motor Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a 6-acre island located in the Upper Niagara River off of Grand Island. Currently, there is no public access onto the island. It is posted as a restricted area to protect the colonial water birds. The only access to the island is during the waterfowl hunting season by permit only. There are designated waterfowl hunting blind locations along the shoreline for waterfowl hunting. The permit and lottery for blind selection is coordinated by Beaver Island State Park.

The area was purchased in 1998 by the DEC with funding from the 1996 Environmental Quality Bond Act. The area was acquired to protect habitat for a unique group of colonial nesting birds which is part of a large significant coastal habitat critical to the Niagara River ecosystem.

Featured Activities


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Wildlife Management Unit: 9A

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

The island is an important habitat for colonial nesting birds, including cormorants, great blue herons, great egrets, and black-crowned night herons. Beavers are also known to use the island. Use the Wildlife Management Area Vertebrate Checklist (PDF) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) as wildlife viewing guides.

Motor Island Brown Sign


The WMA is an island in the Niagara River and can only be accessed by boat - (42.964515°N, 78.934036°W) - Get Google Map Driving Directions (Leaves 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 Motor Island 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 in Motor Island WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming (no lifeguard on premises) 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).

How We Manage Motor Island Wildlife Management Area

Wildlife Restoration Logo

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Motor Island 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.

A principal management objective and technique for this WMA is to protect habitat for a unique group of colonial nesting birds. At this time, the Bureau of Wildlife is not conducting any land management activities on the island. In 2013, the New York Power Authority completed the Motor Island Shoreline Restoration Habitat Improvement Project. This project is part of the requirements in the power authority's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license and NYS Water Quality Certificate for the Niagara Power Project. This Habitat Improvement Project (HIP) was developed jointly with DEC and involves some invasive species removal and shoreline habitat creation.

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.