Skip to main content
idfg-badge

Idaho Fish and Game

Pend Oreille WMA
Wildlife Management Area
Pend Oreille WMA
Before you go

The Pend Oreille WMA consists of 25 discontinuous parcels of land scattered along the edges of Lake Pend Oreille, the Pend Oreille River, Pack River, Clark Fork Delta, Priest River and additional nearby waters. The properties range in size from 2 acres to 1,729 acres. Public facilities are available but scattered across this sprawling WMA. Paved roads provide access to the WMA properties. Once on the WMA, all travel is non-motorized. Mowed maintenance trails on some segments provide paths for foot travel, biking, skiing and other non-motorized means of travel.

img_1565
Related Location
Overview

Pend Oreille WMA lands were acquired as mitigation for impacts from the construction of Albeni Falls Dam. Prior to construction, Lake Pend Oreille fluctuated naturally. Spring runoff raised the lake level an average of 12 feet, which would peak in May and by late summer the lake would recede to its normal level for the next eight months. This seasonal flooding supported a diverse array of vegetation that in turn supported an array of wildlife.

The Albeni Falls Dam changed the natural cycle. Areas that were historically flooded for a short period were now inundated for longer time periods, which reduced critical waterfowl habitats. To mitigate for the loss of habitat, 7,432 acres of scattered parcels of riverine and delta habitats within the Pend Oreille River watershed are now managed primarily for wildlife.

Pend Oreille WMA properties provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Sites that typically support thousands of waterfowl during migration include Morton Slough, Oden Bay, the Pack River Delta, Denton Slough and the Clark Fork River Delta.

The greatest use of the WMA occurs in the fall. Waterfowl numbers have been as high as 60,000 ducks, 15,000 Canada geese and 2,000 tundra swans. A large portion of the Pacific Flyway' s redhead duck population winters on Lake Pend Oreille, with counts reaching 20,000.

The WMA also provides important breeding and nesting habitat for waterfowl. To further support waterfowl production, WMA staff and volunteers maintain 200 man-made goose nesting platforms and 60 artificial nesting boxes for wood ducks and other cavity-nesting ducks. Active management of emergent wetland and upland habitats insures these properties provide the best possible conditions for waterfowl during this critical period.

Pend Oreille WMA parcels are a popular destination for waterfowl hunting in northern Idaho each fall. Hunting is excellent for ducks and geese early in the season before Lake Pend Oreille has been drawn down to its winter pool level.

Location Facts

Primary Purpose: Provide habitat for waterfowl production and waterfowl migration; cover and food for migrating waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds and other wildlife; and provide high quality wetland, conifer forest and grassland habitat for a diverse array of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates. Provide public access to hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. Habitat : Emergent, Delta and riparian wetlands, lakes, conifer forest and grasslands. 7,432 acres Bonner and Kootenai Counties Established in 1956

Location Things to Know

The WMA can be accessed in a variety of ways.

  • County roads provide access to the majority of parcels parking areas, however a few parcels along the Pend Oreille River are accessible by boat only.
  • Many public boat launches are available along the Pend Oreille River and Pend Oreille Lake. Department managed boat launches that provide access to WMA parcels on Pend Oreille Lake include the Clark Fork Delta. Johnson Creek, Pack River and Hawkins Point. Morton Slough accesses the Pend Oreille River. Boat launches at Shepherd Lake and Cocolalla Lake provide additional access. 
  • Other public facilities are available but scattered across this sprawling WMA.

Parking areas with informational signage can be found at 17 access sites on the WMA.

Travel on the WMA is non-motorized only. 

Access Information

The WMA can be accessed in a variety of ways. County roads provide access to the majority of parcels parking areas, however a few parcels along the Pend Oreille River are accessible by boat only. Many public boat launches are available along the Pend Oreille River and Pend Oreille Lake. Department managed boat launches that provide access to WMA parcels on Pend Oreille Lake include the Clark Fork Delta. Johnson Creek, Pack River and Hawkins Point. Morton Slough accesses the Pend Oreille River. Boat launches at Shepherd Lake and Cocolalla Lake provide additional access. Other public facilities are available but scattered across this sprawling WMA. Parking areas with informational signage can be found at 17 access sites on the WMA. Travel on the WMA is non-motorized only.

Resources
Hunting

Pend Oreille WMA properties are a popular destination for waterfowl hunting in northern Idaho each fall. Hunting is excellent for ducks and geese early in the season before Lake Pend Oreille has been drawn down for winter pool level. As the lake is lowered, near-shore areas are dewatered, mudflats appear and hunting becomes more difficult. 

Big game hunting is popular on the WMA’s larger tracts, but limited on smaller WMA parcels. White-tailed deer occur on most WMA sites and are the most abundant big game species on the WMA. Moose, elk, black bear and mountain lion frequent portions of the WMA.

Some parcels provide good hunting for upland game species, such as ruffed grouse, wild turkey and snowshoe hare.

Fishing

Public boat launching sites on the WMA provide access for many anglers whose ultimate destination is Lake Pend Oreille. When the lake is at full pool in the summer, fishing opportunity is at its peak in waters within the WMA. Anglers will find bullhead, yellow perch, large and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout in the near-shore sloughs and deep-water bays.

For a complete list of game fish found in Lake Pend Oreille, visit Fish and Game's Fishing Planner.

Trapping

Trapping is allowed on the WMA properties. Trappers must register with the Panhandle Regional Office or WMA staff before setting out traps on the WMA.

Wildlife Watching

Wildlife viewing, photography and recreational boating are just some of the outdoor activities awaiting visitors to the Pend Oreille WMA.  With wetlands being the primary habitat, birds of all kinds flock to the WMA lands.

  • Waterfowl migrations are a big draw in the spring and the fall.  
  • Upwards of 300 bald eagles are drawn by kokanee migrating to spawn in the lake’s tributaries. Their numbers peak between late November and March.
  • Several active bald eagle nesting sites can be observed on WMA properties.
  • Ospreys nests are common throughout the WMA, with the greatest densities occurring in the Clark Fork River Delta and near Morton Slough.
  • Other common raptors are observed mainly in the spring and fall.
  • Great blue herons are frequent year-round residents of the WMA wetlands.  Heron rookeries can be found on the WMA on the Clark Fork River Delta and Morton Slough.
  • Common loons are often observed during spring and fall migrations. The best sites for observing looks is along the Sunnyside peninsula.
  • Western grebes are abundant, particularly in Denton Slough. One of the only north Idaho nesting colonies occurs here. Their courtship display takes place in spring and early summer.  Upwards of 30 nests have been counted in a single summer. 
  • Our mature Ponderosa pine forest habitat is home for several species of woodpeckers, including the Lewis woodpecker, not commonly found this far north in Idaho.
  • Wetland shrub and riparian forest communities with willow, alder, birch and cottonwood provide a diversity of bird species to check off your list.
Hiking

Mowed maintenance trails on some segments provide paths for foot travel, biking, skiing and other non-motorized means of travel.

Travel on the WMA off the public roads is non-motorized only.