As the days shorten and cold Arctic blasts move down upon us, the skies erupt with the songs of waterfowl and other birds migrating to wintering grounds. About 1.5 million birds winter around the Chesapeake Bay. These winter visitors include species of ducks, swans, geese, herons, egrets, loons, cormorants, grebes, gulls, terns and raptors.
Protecting and conserving these habitats are critical to the survival of wintering waterfowl. Each of us can ensure their survival through the Federal Duck Stamp Program.
Initially, the Migratory Birds Hunting and Conservation Stamp, now known as the Federal Duck Stamp, began as a revenue stamp purchased by hunters of migratory birds. Today, Federal Duck Stamps are a vital tool for wetland conservation. 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.
Beginning in 1934, Federal Duck Stamps have generated more than $670 million, which has been used to help purchase or lease over 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the United States.
Waterfowl are not the only wildlife to benefit from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. Birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have also prospered. An estimated one-third of the Nation's endangered and threatened species find food or shelter on refuges.
People benefit too. Hunters have places to enjoy their hunting heritage and other outdoor enthusiasts have places to hike, watch birds, and visit. Protected wetlands help purify water supplies, store flood water, reduce soil erosion and provide spawning areas for fish important to fishermen.
A current year’s Federal Duck Stamp also serves as an entrance pass for those National Wildlife Refuges where admission is normally charged. Federal Duck Stamps and products that bear the stamp images are also popular collector items. The beautiful stamps gain value over the years and are an important part of America’s outdoor culture.
In 1989, the first Junior Duck Stamps were produced. The Junior Duck Stamp program teaches students “conservation through the arts.” Revenue generated by the sales of Junior Duck Stamps funds environmental education programs.
Both Federal Duck Stamps ($15) and Junior Duck Stamps ($5) are sold in many post offices across the country. You can also buy both stamps on the internet, and many sporting goods and outdoor stores sell the Federal Duck Stamps.
For more information about the Federal Duck Stamp Program check out: