Trumpeter swans at Union Slough NWR
Tour Route will be open again from May 3-12, 2024

The Auto Tour Route is currently closed to reduce disturbance to migrating waterfowl using the Core Area of the refuge.  The Tour Route will be open again from May 3-12, 2024 in celebration of World Migratory Bird Day.

Person standing in tall grass with rifle hunting for duck
Hunting on Union Slough NWR

Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of opportunities for hunters. Two portions of the refuge, Schwob Marsh and Buffalo Creek Bottoms, are open for all state hunting seasons. The middle section of the refuge is called the Core Area. This portion contains a large marsh that provides a resting place for birds during spring and fall migration. The Core Area is closed to all hunting – except for pheasant and gray partridge hunting during the last five days of the state-established pheasant hunting season. Please see the Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge Hunting and Fishing Brochure for complete hunting and fishing regulations for the refuge.

Union Slough is all that remains of a pre-glacial riverbed. Actually, the area is a connection point, or union, between two watersheds - the Blue Earth River of Minnesota and the east fork of the Des Moines River. Before European settlement, the area was so level that the wind determined which way the slough flowed. Established in 1938 as a migratory waterfowl refuge, Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge provides critical habitat for native prairie and wetland wildlife in a landscape dominated by intensive agriculture.
Photo of an Oxbow Restoration with Darrick Weissenfluh
Partners for Fish and Wildlife

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a program called Partners for Fish and Wildlife that provides free technical and financial assistance to landowners, managers, tribes, corporations, schools and nonprofits interested in improving wildlife habitat on their land.

If you're interested in prairie, wetland, and/or oxbow restoration, please contact our Private Lands Biologist: Darrick Weissenfluh,, Cell 515-320-5636

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer the outdoor enthusiast an opportunity to escape from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with nature. Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge has excellent ways for outdoor enthusiasts to connect with the natural world.

Location and Contact Information

      Our Species

      More than 240 species of birds have been seen on Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge, with more than 100 species known nest on the refuge. The refuge is the epicenter of trumpeter swan nesting in Iowa. Federally threatened prairie bush-clover and state endangered Blanding’s turtles are found on the refuge.