Policy Pulse: Duck Stamp Increase Boosts Conservation

Duck Stamp_credit Tom Koerner USFWS

The “duck stamp” is one of the most successful conservation tools in American history. All hunters in the United States must purchase a federal duck stamp to hunt ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. People also purchase duck stamps for stamp collections and to support conservation efforts. The money raised from duck stamp sales is used to conserve wetlands. Since League leader “Ding” Darling drew the first duck stamp in 1934, sales of these stamps have raised more than $800 million for the purchase or lease of more than 6 million acres of wetland habitat.

The price of a duck stamp had not increased since 1991, despite inflation and dramatic increases in the price of land. Yet duck stamp funds are needed now more than ever to stave off the loss of wetlands. The rate of wetlands loss increased by 140 percent from 2004 to 2009, a result of high crop prices, continued crop subsidies, and weakened Clean Water Act protections for millions of acres of wetlands.

A bill raising the price of a federal duck stamp from $15 to $25, which the League supported, was signed into law in December. The additional $5 million expected to be raised each year will be available to fund conservation easements protecting privately held wetlands. In recent years, hundreds of landowners have been waiting to enroll their land in conservation easements. This new funding will help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service respond to those requests. The bill also allows the electronic sale of duck stamps.