Duck Stamps a Great Investment in Public Wetlands

Duck Stamps a Great Investment in Public Wetlands

2009-2010 Federal Duck Stamp
2009-2010 Federal Duck Stamp

United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
Washington, DC – -( Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked J.N. “Ding” Darling to serve as Chief of the National Biological Survey, the precursor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. History sometimes provides the right person at the right time and Darling would prove a perfect fit.

America’s wetlands were drying up or being drained and waterfowl population numbers plummeted below 27 million nationwide, a record low. Alarmed waterfowl hunters and other conservationists knew there was no time to waste.

Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist, hunter, passionate wildlife conservationist, and visionary, Darling unhesitatingly put his considerable influence and stature to good use, taking on the important challenge of convincing Congress to pass legislation designed to help protect waterfowl habitat. In 1934, thanks to his unstinting efforts and strong support from waterfowl hunters, Congress passed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act and, on March 16, 1934, President Roosevelt signed it into law.

As Biological Survey Chief, Darling created one of America’s most successful conservation programs, the Federal Duck Stamp Program. Ever the artist, he illustrated his vision for the new Duck Stamp, drawing a pair of mallards landing in a wetland. This picture graced the very first Federal Duck Stamp.

On August 14, 1934, Darling bought the first stamp from the U.S. Postmaster General, paying $1.00. First year sales raised $635,000 for wetland conservation; since then thanks to collectors, hunters and conservationists, Duck Stamp sales have raised $700 million which has been used to buy 5 million acres of wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Besides conserving wetlands, Darling’s Duck Stamp Program has given this country another gift—one of the world’s foremost waterfowl art competitions. Until 1949, waterfowl artists were invited to submit entries. A committee of waterfowl experts privately judged the entries and selected the winning design. In 1949, for the first time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held a public contest, opening up the competition. In October 2007, the Federal Duck Stamp Contest was held in Darling’s beloved Sanibel, Florida, and a distinguished jury panel selected the design for the 75th Federal Duck Stamp, a pair of pintail ducks by Minnesota artist Joseph Hautman.

Jr. Duck Wood Duck 2009-2010
Jr. Duck Wood Duck 2009-2010
That brings us to the point of this article. The Federal Duck Stamp Program is still a great way to support wetlands preservation and you can easily buy “Duck Stamps” online at the USPS Store. Take a look at the Duck Stamps here. Even if you will never go water fowling these are all great collectors items and beautiful works of art. Proceeds from the sale of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (the Federal Duck Stamp) fund the acquisition of wetlands and wildlife habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since its inception in 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program has generated over $700 million for the preservation of more than five million acres of American wetlands.

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