Updated: Jun 5
For years, hunters have held the Duck stamp over the heads of non-consumptive users like birdwatchers. However, it is time for bird lovers to have a voice in conservation decisions!
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The Duck Stamp is a major piece of historic and modern conservation. It requires consumptive recreation enthusiasts to support the habitat used in their sports. However, non-consumptive users have not been required to purchase the stamp, even when utilizing the same habitats. Now, I am calling on birdwatchers to stand up and make a change.
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Why should a birder purchase a Duck Stamp?
Birdwatchers do not buy permits, pay ammo taxes, or utilize conservation stamps. And while birdwatching is generally viewed as having a lesser impact on habitat, birding leaves a footprint. Even a minimal footprint should be monetarily 'filled,' and support for federally protected areas is critical to bird conservation. Additionally, wildlife enthusiasts want a voice in how federal lands are managed. Hunters are often given a priority voice in some regions because of their influential dollars. Birders must have a cash-backed bite as loud as their bark. That bite comes in the form of the annual Federal Duck Stamp.
What is the Duck Stamp?
According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Federal Duck Stamp has been produced annually since 1934. The purpose of the Duck Stamp is to generate monies that contribute 98% of their purchase price directly to help acquire and protect wetland habitat and purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Additionally, while the stamp serves as a hunting license and conservation tool, a current Federal Duck Stamp is also a free pass into any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee. Because the majority of the proceeds are used to conserve habitat for birds and other wildlife, birders, nature photographers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, Duck Stamp purchases help ensure that wildlife are always available for enjoyment at favorite outdoor locales.
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Where can I purchase a Duck Stamp?
If you are a birder, birdwatcher, bird-lover, conservationist, non-hunter, etc, purchasing from a conservation vendor is critical to showing the strength of the unified birdwatching voice. I strongly recommend purchasing the Duck Stamp from the American Birding Association. Your purchase here only strengthens the voice of non-hunters in land-use decisions.
Also, Federal Duck Stamps are sold at many sporting goods stores and other retail locations that sell sporting and recreation equipment, state wildlife agencies, national wildlife refuges, and the online distributor for USFWS, Amplex.
How is the Duck Stamp artwork created and selected?
Each year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service conducts an art contest. This contest is a rarity, as it is the only juried art competition sponsored by the federal government! Any artist 18 years or older may enter, and the winning artist sees their work featured as the design on the following year's Federal Duck Stamp.
The Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest is open to the public, and even non-participants can enjoy the selection process by watching winning art being selected by the judges from among hundreds of entries. Federal Duck Stamps are artistic creations, highly valued and sought after, and they are prized by stamp collectors around the world. The stamp image is even frequently found on products such as t-shirts, calendars, mugs, and blankets.
Want to see more Duck Stamp artwork? View the gallery of all previous Duck Stamps.
How can I support state conservation for wildlife?
In each state, wildlife and land management agencies often require certain conservation stamps to acquire and protect important areas. For me, I can purchase an annual or lifetime conservation stamp that supports habitat improvement projects and land acquisition efforts. Most states in the US likely have a similar program or effort.
An additional way you can support wildlife in your location is to purchase a wildlife or conservation license plate for your vehicle(s)! In my home state, the purchase of these plates helps build overpasses for migrating wildlife like deer, elk, and moose.
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Want to improve your waterfowl identification? Check out our favorite waterfowl identification guides:
Top Waterfowl Guide Recommendation - The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl
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