WASHINGTON, D.C. – Calling the federal “Duck Stamp” one of conservation’s greatest tools, Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, said the stamp is a vital part of the wetlands acquisition fund-raising strategy for the nation’s wildlife refuges.
Hirsche’s comments came following the 2011 Federal Duck Stamp Contest held this past weekend. Minnesota artist Joe Hautman, who has won the contest four previous times, was judged the winner of this year’s contest. His painting of a wood duck will grace the 2012-2013 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (the official name for the “duck stamp”).
“Since 1934, the Duck Stamp, which supports the acquisition of wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Hirsche, “is responsible for more than $750 million in conservation funds, resulting in more than 5.3 million acres of land being conserved – most of it on our nation’s national wildlife refuges.”
The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is the oldest and most prestigious wildlife art competition in the United States. Along with a state’s hunting license, the stamps are required to hunt migratory waterfowl in the United States.
“The Ducks Stamp plays a critical role in the conservation of key habitats,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “Ninety-eight percent of the receipts from stamp sales are used to add critical breeding, migration and wintering habitat to the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
“Hunting and angling contribute more than $95 billion to the United States economy each year,” Hirsche said. “Those activities, of which the duck stamp is a part, also generate more than $1 billion on state and federal tax revenues annually. The “Duck Stamp” program continues to pave the way for conservation funding.”
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.