Bowfishing Tournament – June 29

Bowfishing Association of America World Bowfishing Tournament Permitted on
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) has been notified of the issuance of a fishing tournament permit to bowfishing groups in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Bowfishing Association of America (BAA) will host a night-time bowfishing tournament in Upper Mississippi River Pools 3 through 9 on June 29. The BAA has received a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in coordination with Wisconsin DNR.

BAA Tournament Director John Laska spoke with Refuge Manager Sabrina Chandler to discuss tournament “red zones” which are areas to be avoided by tournament participants. Participants who enter designated red zones will be disqualified from the tournament. They also discussed concerns that have been raised in response to previous tournaments and bowfishing activities. Mr. Laska and the other tournament organizers have taken appropriate measures to ensure that tournament participants are aware of the red zones, Refuge and State regulations, and that participants are considerate to other recreational users of the Refuge. 

Bowfishing is allowed on Refuge lands in accordance with State law. Currently, fishing tournaments are regulated through the respective State DNRs and in compliance with a compatibility determination completed initially through the Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan in 2006 and again through a re-evaluation process that was finalized in 2018.

Any concerns or observations of violations should be reported to the proper authorities. Refuge specific violations can be reported to the National Wildlife Refuge System Tip line at 1-844-NWR-TIPS (697-8477) or email 24 hours a day. You’ll be asked for the type of incident as well as the date, place (refuge name or county/state), approximate time of the incident, and any important descriptive information such as boat numbers or make/model of vessel. You may leave your name and contact information, which will aid law enforcement in the response and investigation, or you may remain anonymous. Any contact information provided will be used for official purposes only.

In addition to being the most visited refuge in the country, the “Upper Miss” Refuge has the added complexity of a major navigation system, including 11 locks and dams, within its boundary.  It is also a world-class fish and wildlife area which harbors 306 species of birds; 119 species of fish; more than 200 active bald eagle nests; thousands of heron and egret nests; spectacular concentrations of canvasback ducks, tundra swans, and white pelicans; and several threatened or endangered species.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.  For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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