By Kevin Dickey, Chapter President – Lakeland Audubon Society
You probably have heard in the past how good it is for conservation when somebody buys a Federal Duck Stamp. When you consider the effectiveness and efficiency of the program, it’s likely the most successful conservation funding effort in history. The program has enabled the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to buy more than six million acres of land for habitat conservation by netting approximately one billion dollars from sales. Land that is acquired by the program becomes part of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).
The Duck Stamp, with its official name being the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp was started in 1934. Hunters that are sixteen years of age or older are required by law to have a duck stamp in order to pursue waterfowl in the U.S. The stamps, which are also purchased by non-hunters, provide free admission to National Wildlife Refuges. All National Wildlife Refuges are open to the public. More information about this can be found online at: www.recreation.gov.
Artwork for the stamp is decided by the annual “Federal Duck Stamp Contest”. Winning this contest is a prestigious honor among wildlife artists around the country. Last year’s winner and whose artwork is on this year’s stamp, was Robert Hautman of Delano, MN. He’s won the contest twice before and his two brothers, James and Joseph have won numerous times. To view their award winning artwork, visit the website: www.hautman.com.
For those looking to purchase the stamp, they are available at most U.S. Post Offices, sporting good stores and at National Wildlife Refuges at a cost of $25. They are also available online at: www.usps.gov and www.fws.gov. The Junior Duck Stamp, which supports conservation education is also available at both the aforementioned websites at a cost of $5.