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Sanibel, Florida Selected As Site for 2007 Federal Duck Stamp Contest and 75th Anniversary Celebration


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2006


Contacts:
Joshua Winchell, 202-208-5634
Kevin Godsea, 941-472-1100, ext. 237
Tom MacKenzie, 404-679-7291


The nation’s oldest, most prestigious art contest is coming to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Sanibel, Florida, where artwork will be chosen for the 75th Federal Duck Stamp.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the contest would be held at BIG ARTS cultural center in Sanibel October 12-13, 2007 to honor Darling, the nationally-known cartoonist and conservationist who designed the first Federal Duck Stamp in 1934. The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, also known as the “Duck Stamp,” was created by Darling as the federal tax required for hunting migratory waterfowl.

“We are excited to bring the Federal Duck Stamp Contest to Sanibel and “Ding” Darling Refuge,” said Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I can think of no better place to honor “Ding” with the selection of artwork for America’s 75th Federal Duck Stamp.”

Today, the $15 stamp is the cornerstone of one of the most world’s most successful conservation programs. Money from Duck Stamp sales are a vital tool for wetland conservation, with 98 cents of every dollar generated going to purchase or lease wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the stamp’s inception, nearly $700 million has been raised to acquire more than 5.2 million acres of habitat and hundreds of refuges across the Nation to conserve America’s fish and wildlife resources.

The winning artwork selected at the 2007 contest will grace the 2008-2009 Federal Duck Stamp, which will be the program’s 75th stamp. It will be available for sale in summer, 2008.

“As we select the art to appear on the 75th stamp, it is an opportunity to remind the American public how important these stamp funds are for wildlife conservation,” said Hall. “In addition to the migratory waterfowl hunters who purchase stamps, we encourage all bird-watchers and other nature enthusiasts to buy duck stamps to help conserve wildlife habitat throughout the country.”

From Darling’s first design in 1934 through the 1949 stamp, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appointed an artist to create the stamp. In 1950, the Service started an annual juried contest to select the artwork for the stamp. Since that time, a panel of five judges with expertise in waterfowl, stamp design, and artistic detail have been chosen for each year’s contest.

Today, the Federal Duck Stamp Contest is the only federally-sponsored art competition. Hundreds of prominent wildlife artists from across the country enter each year, with the winning design gracing the following year’s stamp. While the winner receives no money from the federal government, the winning artist benefits from the increased visibility and sale of their prints and artwork.

“We’re excited to host such an important national contest,” said Rob Jess, manager of the 6,400-acre Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge that hosts more than 800,000 visitors annually. “Part of our mission is to celebrate “Ding’s” legacy. When he created the first duck stamp, I wonder if he knew what a tremendous influence he would have on conservation in this country.”

“This is a great opportunity for the area to showcase its wonderful nature, where visitors can experience exceptional wildlife viewing,” said D.T. Minich, executive director of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. “Sanibel Island with its “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is such a fabulous example of Ding’s conservation legacy.”

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge was created when President Harry Truman signed an Executive Order in 1945 to create Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge. It was established as a result of a campaign led by “Ding” Darling himself to protect this special place. Darling lived near the refuge on Captiva Island. He first came to the area in 1934, shortly after he had created the first Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp. He became a winter resident in the late 1930s, and resided on the island for two decades. In 1967, the refuge was renamed J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR after the man that worked so hard to protect it.

In 2005, more than 1.6 million people purchased a Federal Duck Stamp. Every waterfowl hunter over the age of 16 is required to buy a Federal Duck Stamp in order to hunt waterfowl. In addition, Federal Duck Stamps are highly sought after by collectors, and provide free entry into any national wildlife refuge in the country that charges an entrance fee.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 


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