I’ve been buying duck stamps for eight years now. I knew that the money went toward conservation, but I didn’t entirely understand how it worked. I’m guessing most falconers don’t. This year, I’ve had the pleasure of working on the committee organizing the events surrounding this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest (in California for the first time) and wonder why I didn’t know that everyone should buy one, duck hunter or not. From USFWS:
Ninety-eight) cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Understandably, the Federal Duck Stamp Program has been called one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated and is a highly effective way to conserve America’s natural resources.
There’s no question that this stamp is a powerful tool for conservation. What’s amazing to me however, is how this stamp came about. In 1934 in the middle of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, hunters said, “charge us to hunt. Charge us a dollar and make it go toward saving our land and the ducks we hunt.” What you have to understand is what a dollar was worth to these men. I heard Dale Hall, the CEO of Ducks Unlimited explain what a dollar could buy then. It could buy flour, sugar, eggs, milk… enough groceries to last you a week during a very very hard time. Honestly, in a much worse economy, albeit with echos to the time we are living in now.
So I was excited to buy my Duck Stamp this year, and even more excited when Ken Salazar made an appearance at the DU Headquarters to announce a new Duck Stamp Cache. This extra Duck Stamp will go specifically toward acquiring wetlands in the Gulf Coast.
Have you bought your Duck Stamp? It shouldn’t make a difference whether you are hunting ducks or not. Every piece of wetlands purchased is a place saved for waterfowl, shorebirds …and our children. If hunters could step up and offer a week’s worth of grocery money in the worst economy in United States history, surely we can all afford the cost of a dinner out to keep some of our landscape wild. What are you waiting for?
In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sell Federal Duck Stamps at our falconry meets. We are all conservationists at the end of the day, right? Check out Amplex to see how you can get Duck Stamps to sell at your events. Even you dirt hawkers ought to be buying one…