The purchase of a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, more simply known as a “Duck Stamp,” is one of the best ways you can promote wetlands conservation. Since its inception in 1934 as a federal license for hunting migratory waterfowl, this program has generated over $670,000,000 that has been used to purchase or lease 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat that is now included in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The stamps are only $15, and 98% of that is used for habitat preservation! With a decline in the number of hunters, it is more important than ever that conservationists, and especially birders, purchase Duck Stamps. As a bonus, having the current year’s stamp allows you free access to any National Wildlife Refuge, many of which now charge admission fees.
There’s another benefit to purchasing and saving these stamps. Each fall the Fish and Wildlife Service sponsors a stamp design contest. The winning design is submitted to the U.S. Postal Service for production of the coming year’s stamp. (The stamps are not valid for postage.) With such high quality artwork, the stamps have become profitable collector’s items. The total face value of the 73 stamps issued to date is about $400. However, this investment today would be worth well over $5,000!
The Junior Duck Stamp program was signed into law in 1994. Its purpose is to support environmental education. Thousands of students in grades K-12 create and submit artwork depicting a duck, swan or goose. Winning designs are widely exhibited at places such as state fairs, art galleries, and wildlife refuges. This helps inform the public about the value of wetlands and the wildlife they support. All proceeds from the $5 stamp sales are used for conservation awards and scholarships to the participants.
Colorado instituted its own Waterfowl Stamp Program in 1989. In addition to the federal stamp and a small game hunting license, Colorado requires anyone 16 year or older to purchase of a Waterfowl Stamp in order to hunt migratory ducks, swans and geese. To date, approximately $6.7 million has been raised through stamp sales, contributing to the protection of 19,500 acres of Colorado wetlands. Of course, non-hunters are also welcome to purchase stamps. This is a wonderful opportunity for local birders to participate in the preservation of local birding habitat.
Federal Duck Stamps are valid from July 1 – June 30 of each year. They cost $15, and may be purchased at the post office, at any store where hunting and fishing licenses are sold, by calling 800.852.4897, or online.
Colorado Waterfowl Stamps are also available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold, by calling 800.244.5613, or online.