[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 163 (Thursday, August 26, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 47593-47596]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-18479]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 91

[Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2021-0048; FXMB 12330900000//212//FF09M13000]
RIN 1018-BF62

Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck 
Stamp) Contest

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are revising 
the regulations governing the annual Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and 
Conservation Stamp Contest (also known as the Federal Duck Stamp 
Contest (Contest)). We are removing the previously specified permanent 
theme and the mandatory inclusion of an appropriate hunting element 
within all Contest entries and revising the qualifications of the 
judging panel to reflect this change beginning with the 2022 Contest.

DATES: This rule is effective September 27, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You can view the 2022 Contest Artist Brochure after October 
1, 2021, by one of the following methods:
     Accessing the Duck Stamp Contest & Event Information page 
at: https://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/duck-stamp-contest-and-event-information.php.
     Requesting a copy by contacting the person listed under 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerome Ford, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Department of the Interior, (202) 208-1050.



History of the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp 
(Duck Stamp) Program

    On March 16, 1934, Congress passed and President Franklin D. 
Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which was later 
amended to become the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act 
(16 U.S.C. 718-718j, 48 Stat. 452). Popularly known as the Duck Stamp 
Act, the law requires all waterfowl hunters who have attained the age 
of 16 to buy an annual stamp. Funds generated from Duck Stamp sales are 
used to protect waterfowl and wetland habitat that is incorporated into 
the National Wildlife Refuge System from willing sellers and those 
interested in obtaining conservation easements.
    Over 1.5 million stamps are sold each year, and, as of 2021, 
Federal Duck Stamps have generated more than $1.1 billion for the 
conservation of more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the 
United States. In addition to waterfowl, numerous other birds, mammals, 
fish, reptiles, and amphibians benefit from habitat protected by the 
Duck Stamp revenues, including an estimated one-third of the nation's 
endangered and threatened species. The healthy wetlands protected by 
Duck Stamp funding sequester carbon and contribute to addressing the 
impacts of climate change, including absorbing flood waters and storm 
surge. These wetlands purify water supplies and provide economic 
support to local communities as they attract outdoor recreationists 
from many different backgrounds.

History of the Duck Stamp Contest

    The first Federal Duck Stamp was designed at President Roosevelt's 
request by Jay N. ``Ding'' Darling, a nationally known political 
cartoonist for the Des Moines Register and a hunter and wildlife 
conservationist. In subsequent years, noted wildlife artists were asked 
to submit designs for the stamp. The first Contest was opened in 1949 
to any U.S. artist who wished to enter. Since then, the Contest has 
attracted large numbers of entrants, and it remains the only art 
competition of its kind sponsored by the U.S. Government. The Secretary 
of the Interior appoints a panel of judges who have expertise in the 
area of art, waterfowl, or philately to select each year's winning 
design. Winners receive no compensation for the work, except a pane of 
Duck Stamps, based on their winning design, signed by the Secretary of 
the Interior. However, winners maintain the copyright to their artwork 
and may sell prints of their designs, which are sought by hunters, 
conservationists, and art collectors.
    Waterfowl hunters have been the greatest contributors to the 
program, as they are required to purchase Duck Stamps in order to hunt 
waterfowl. Many individuals not engaged in hunting also purchase Duck 
Stamps to contribute to conservation or for the stamp's artistic value.

The 2020 Final Rule and 2021 Contest

    On May 8, 2020, the Service published a final rule (85 FR 27313) 
revising the regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR) at part 91 (50 CFR part 91) governing the annual Federal Duck 
Stamp Contest. The Contest regulations made permanent the theme 
``celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage'' for all future Contests. 
The regulations required the inclusion of a waterfowl hunting-related 
scene or accessory in every entry but did not specify what accessories 
to include. Requirements for the judging panel specified that all 
judges would have one or more prerequisite qualifications, which could 
include the ability to recognize waterfowl hunting accessories. An 
image of a drake lesser scaup with a lanyard and duck calls was chosen 
as the winner of the 2020 Contest, and this image appears on the 2021-
2022 Federal Duck Stamp.
    The 2021 Contest species and regulations, with the permanent theme 
and mandatory inclusion of waterfowl hunting-related accessories or 
scenes in all entries, were widely publicized and in effect for the 
2021 Contest. The entry period for artwork closed on August 15, 2021. 
The Service reminded artists that their entries for the 2021 Contest 
must adhere to the theme, entry qualifications, and judging 
requirements published in the regulations. Regardless of the effective 
date of this rule (see DATES, above), the 2021 Contest species and 
regulations apply to the 2021 Contest.

Proposed Rule To Amend the Duck Stamp Regulations

    On June 23, 2021, we published a proposed rule (86 FR 32878) to 
remove the permanent ``celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage'' 
theme, which required the mandatory inclusion of an appropriate 
hunting-related element in all Contest entries, and accordingly to 
revise the qualifications for selection as a judge and the scoring 
criteria for the Contest, beginning with the 2022 Contest. The Service 
proposed the changes to the regulations to allow artists more freedom 
of expression when designing their Contest entries.

Summary of Public Comments and Responses

    We accepted public comments on our June 23, 2021, proposed rule for 
30 days, ending July 23, 2021, and we invited comments on the proposed 
changes from artists, stamp collectors,

[[Page 47594]]

hunters, and other user groups. We received more than 200 unique 
responses, including those from 15 organizations, specifically 
addressing the proposed rule. Commenters included self-identified 
members representing artists, waterfowl hunters, Duck Stamp and art 
print collectors, National Wildlife Refuge users, bird watchers, 
photographers, former Duck Stamp Contest judges, and several others who 
identified as conservationists or outdoor recreationists. The 15 
organizations responding included all four Flyway Councils, bird 
watching organizations, bird conservation and advocacy organizations, 
avian ornithological organizations, and National Wildlife Refuge System 
support groups.
    Overall, more than 80 percent of respondents were in favor of the 
proposed rule. All organizations expressed their support of removing 
the mandatory inclusion of hunting accessories. The majority of 
comments in favor of removing the theme expressed their opinion that a 
broader appeal for the stamp will allow for marketing to all audiences 
interested in conserving habitat. A focus on the common desire for 
habitat conservation, without alienating and dividing different user 
groups was recommended as the best way to increase sales and program 
    All of the self-identified Duck Stamp artists indicated they were 
in favor of removing the permanent theme and mandatory inclusion of a 
waterfowl hunting accessory or theme. Artists reported that the 
permanent theme stifled their creativity, that the mandatory inclusion 
of a hunting accessory was difficult from a design and composition 
perspective, that the requirement limited the choice of eligible 
subjects to hunted waterfowl species, that the mandatory accessory 
inclusion detracts from the natural beauty of the waterfowl species 
itself, and that the requirement put new, young, and nonhunting artists 
at a severe disadvantage for successfully competing in the Contest. 
Artists and others commenting on the artwork itself pointed to the 
decrease in number of entries and a decrease in quality of the 2018 and 
2020 entries, as indicators that artists were not happy with the 
mandatory inclusion.
    Twenty-seven percent of those wishing to see the permanent theme 
removed pointed out that traditionally, the Duck Stamp Contest has not 
had a mandate for the inclusion of a mandatory hunting theme or 
accessory. It was also pointed out that only three entries prior to 
2018 successfully included a hunting accessory due to the artist's 
    Of the respondents against the removal of the theme, many seemed to 
misunderstand the intent of the rule change or how it related to 
previous Contest regulations. Two-thirds of those wanting the theme to 
remain expressed the mistaken impression that the theme and a hunting 
accessory were traditional elements in the Contest regulations. The 
permanent theme and the mandatory hunting accessory inclusion were only 
instituted in the 2020 Contest after a temporary inclusion in the 2018 
Contest. The majority of comments that expressed disapproval in 
removing the mandatory hunting element expressed that the Service was 
trying to change the tradition of the artwork or rewrite 88 years of 
history and support for the Duck Stamp program by the waterfowl hunting 
community. The Service does not intend to change the formal name of the 
Duck Stamp or otherwise diminish the contributions to conservation by 
the waterfowl hunting community. Instead, we prefer to find other ways 
to celebrate our waterfowl hunting community.
    Thirty-six percent of self-identified waterfowl hunters were also 
in favor of removing the permanent theme. Only one person who indicated 
they were in favor of keeping the permanent theme self-identified as a 
    Several commenters simply expressed disapproval or support for the 
proposed revised Contest rules. However, the majority had specific 
comments, which are presented below under headings that identify 
similar subjects. Several commentators offered suggestions that were 
outside the scope of this rule; these are not addressed at this time 
but may be further investigated.

Permanent Theme Recognizes Waterfowl Hunters

    (1) Comment: Of the commenters opposed to removing the permanent 
theme of ``celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage,'' many stated 
that hunters provided all or most of the funding for wildlife 
conservation and only waterfowl hunters purchased Duck Stamps. Some 
self-identified waterfowl hunters stated they purchased more than one 
annual stamp. Several expressed that the removal of the permanent theme 
was against the tradition and purpose of the Federal Duck Stamp. A 
couple of commenters stated that if the hunting theme was removed, as 
hunters, they would opt out of purchasing a Duck Stamp. Several were 
strongly opposed to the nonhunting community having any say in the 
perpetuation of the theme.
    Those who responded in favor of removing the permanent theme stated 
that they purchased stamps and included self-identified hunters, 
nonhunters, bird watchers, users of and volunteers at National Wildlife 
Refuges, general conservationists or naturalists, land managers, 
photographers, and stamp and art collectors. Nonconsumptive users 
expressed the desire to also feel recognized and appreciated for their 
conservation contributions as they were voluntary contributors and were 
not legally bound to purchase a Duck Stamp for hunting. Many commented 
that they were aware and thankful for the contributions to conservation 
that hunters have made but felt that the permanent theme was not 
necessary because the hunting community was acknowledged in other ways. 
Recognizing the decrease in the number of waterfowl hunters and the 
increase in the number of nonconsumptive users who benefit from habitat 
conservation led to several comments stating the nonhunting community 
had the responsibility to take on a larger financial contribution to 
the conservation of wildlife habitat within the National Wildlife 
Refuge System. Comments from several respondents recognized that 
habitat conservation provides many benefits of which hunting is just 
one and that it was the responsibility of all to support conservation. 
Several comments asked hunters to recognize the advocacy of all who 
worked to conserve habitat. Several commented that the permanent theme 
reinforced the idea that the Duck Stamp's only purpose was as a hunting 
stamp, rather than a widely available mechanism to raise funds for 
habitat conservation within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    Service Response: The Service made no changes to the final rule in 
response to these comments. The Service will continue to provide 
information and messaging that honors hunters' conservation 
contributions and promotes the interest and contributions of all user 
groups towards habitat conservation. The Service will use messaging on 
the Duck Stamp to highlight important anniversaries, successes, and 
challenges in habitat and wildlife conservation. The formal name of the 
Duck Stamp will continue to promote both the hunting and general 
conservation purposes of the stamp. Waterfowl will continue to be the 
primary species of focus on the Duck Stamp. Waterfowl hunters will 
still be required to purchase an annual stamp, as a theme or depicted 
species on the stamp has no bearing on the legal

[[Page 47595]]

requirements for migratory bird hunters to have a valid Duck Stamp as 
part of their annual licensing. As the permanent hunting theme was only 
instituted in 2020, removing the theme aligns with the origins of the 
Duck Stamp Contest.

Mandatory Inclusion of a Hunting Element in Entries

    (2) Comment: Commenters in favor of and against removing the 
mandatory inclusion of a hunting related accessory presented two 
primary arguments: One based on creating the art and the annual art 
contest, and the second on the effect of the design on the Duck Stamp's 
marketing potential.
    Of the commenters opposed to removing the mandatory inclusion of a 
hunting element in the design of the stamp, one stated the need for a 
clear and unambiguous illustrative connection between hunters and 
wildlife resource conservation. Another stated that the art must show a 
tie to hunting or it becomes just another wildlife art contest. Several 
commenters felt that removal of the mandatory hunting element would go 
against the traditional artwork of the Duck Stamp or would lead to the 
same stale images.
    Several commenters felt the mandatory inclusion greatly limited 
artistic creativity. Artists are already limited to producing a design 
that has a live portrayal of an eligible species as the dominant and 
central focus of their entry. The entry size requirements and the 
subsequent reduction of the chosen entry to the size of a stamp is seen 
as a limit to the choice of an appropriate element that could be 
incorporated. Several commenters wanted a better description of what 
was acceptable as a ``hunting element'' and thought past entries in the 
2018 and 2020 Contests incorporated inappropriate elements, which 
created a bad image of hunters instead of celebrating their 
conservation ethic.
    Several commenters felt that the overall design should promote 
wildlife and were afraid that mandatory inclusions made viewers lose 
sight of the beauty of the depicted species itself. One respondent 
commented that the inclusion of hunting elements limits the eligible 
species list to those only with open seasons and favored the most 
popularly harvested species.
    Because not all artists who enter the Contest are hunters, many 
felt they were at an unfair disadvantage in composing their entry and 
gathering reference materials. One commenter also noted that any 
hunting element or scene would need to be appropriate for the depicted 
season and plumage of waterfowl so that no implicit game violations 
would be illustrated. The mandatory inclusion of a hunting element was 
seen to discourage young and new artists interested in entering the 
Contest but who are already overwhelmed by the restrictive rules and 
    Service Response: The Service made no changes to the final rule in 
response to these comments. Like other elements, hunting accessories 
and scenes will be optional to be used at the artist's discretion in 
their composition. The Service does not intend to change requirements 
for the entry size or remove the primary focus of the Duck Stamp art 
from the actual waterfowl species. Comments on the judging procedures 
are not within the scope of this rule and will not be addressed here.
    The Service believes the annual Contest functions to promote 
wildlife artists, inform different audiences about the many 
contributions to conservation, diversify our audience and stakeholders 
in habitat conservation, and promote the tradition and heritage of the 
Duck Stamp. The Service feels the Contest should be as inclusive as 
possible to achieve these goals.

Marketing the Duck Stamp

    (3) Comment: Those who provided comments on marketing the Duck 
Stamp agreed with the importance of revenues from sales of the stamp to 
conserve habitat. The majority of respondents recognized the many 
contributions that waterfowl hunters provide in their role as 
conservationists. Most felt that the annual purchase of a stamp, while 
necessary for legal migratory bird hunting, should not preclude 
purchase by other interested parties. Continuation of stamp and print 
collections, having to sign the stamp used for hunting, purchase of the 
stamp as a pass to a National Wildlife Refuge, and support of 
conservation were expressed as reasons to purchase a Duck Stamp other 
than to be legal while hunting migratory birds.
    Those in favor of the removing the permanent hunting theme and the 
mandatory hunting element overwhelmingly stated that this was a 
precursor to increasing sales and expanding support for the Duck Stamp 
as a conservation tool. They expressed the opinion that mandatory 
inclusion of hunting elements in the artwork was a divisive and 
alienating barrier which perpetuated the perception of exclusivity of 
Duck Stamp purchasers. Several individual comments indicated that 
stamps that are artistically pleasing and concentrate on the wildlife 
species itself are the ones most sought after and are what attracts new 
audiences to the Duck Stamp.
    Several respondents offered other specific changes to the Duck 
Stamp that they felt would make them more accepted among different 
audiences. Several specific marketing tactics were also suggested.
    Service Response: The Service made no changes to the final rule in 
response to these comments. The Service is continually looking for ways 
to increase our relevance and promote our mission among a changing 
demographic while recognizing all partners. The Service believes the 
Duck Stamp can play an important role in supporting habitat 
conservation among an increasingly diverse population but only if it is 
seen as an inclusive tool with a wide appeal to a variety of 
    While the Service appreciates the comments on specific marketing 
tactics for the Duck Stamp, they are beyond the scope of this rule and 
are not addressed here.

Effect of Final Rule on 2021 Duck Stamp Contest

    (4) Comment: One comment was received that stated that the Service 
should make accommodations for artists who did not include the 
mandatory hunting element or theme in their entries for the 2021 
    Service Response: The Service made no changes to the final rule in 
response to this comment. This final rule will be in effect starting 
with the 2022 Contest and will not change the requirements for the 2021 
Contest entries. The Contest Rules Brochure for the 2021 Contest was 
made public in October 2020. This annual brochure outlined the 
requirements for entries in the 2021 Contest, included a list of the 
eligible species, and emphasized the requirement of the mandatory 
inclusion of a waterfowl hunting element or scene. Many artists begin 
their entries as soon as the brochure is available and work diligently 
throughout the following months to complete it on time. Art entries are 
accepted beginning on June 1, and must be postmarked by August 15 to be 
eligible for the Contest. Artists have been made aware of the 2021 
Contest requirements and are expected to follow all the rules or be 
disqualified. As in the 2018 and 2020 Contests, the mandatory hunting 
accessory or scene can include a variety of different elements; there 
are many ways an artist may choose to illustrate the required theme of 
``celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage'' to be successful in 
adhering to this requirement.

[[Page 47596]]

Judge Qualifications and Scoring Criteria

    (5) Comment: Six of the seven comments did not oppose the alignment 
of the qualifications for selection as a judge and the scoring criteria 
for the Contest with the removal of the permanent theme and requirement 
for inclusion of a mandatory waterfowl hunting accessory in Contest 
entries. One comment stated that given the change in the Contest rules, 
the Service should eliminate the qualification that a judge be familiar 
with the wildlife sporting world in which the Duck Stamp is used. 
Several comments addressed other changes to the judging panel and 
process that are beyond the scope of this rule.
    Service Response: The Service made no changes to the final rule in 
response to these comments. An understanding of the wildlife sporting 
world in which the Duck Stamp is used is only one of several 
qualifications that an individual may possess in order to qualify to be 
a judge.

Amendments to Existing Regulations

    The Service made no changes to the final rule in response to the 
comments we received on the proposed rule. As we proposed on June 23, 
2021, at 86 FR 32878, this rule removes the permanent theme of 
``celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage'' and the mandatory 
inclusion of a waterfowl hunting-related scene or accessory in Contest 
entries and accordingly revises the qualifications for selection as a 
judge and the scoring criteria for the Contest, beginning with the 2022 
    Accordingly, this rule sets forth amended regulations for:
     The Contest restrictions on subject matter for entries at 
50 CFR 91.14.
     Judge qualifications at 50 CFR 91.21(b).
     Scoring criteria at 50 CFR 91.23.
    These regulatory amendments allow artists more freedom of 
expression when designing their Contest entries and better engage the 
nonhunting audience in understanding that Duck Stamps are a vital tool 
available for all to contribute to habitat conservation. The Service 
acknowledges that waterfowl hunters remain the primary customers of 
Duck Stamps, as these hunters must carry an annual signed stamp as part 
of their licensing requirements, and rather than mandating a permanent 
theme for the Contest and the inclusion of a hunting-related accessory 
in Contest entries, we will develop other methods to promote the 
wildlife and habitat conservation contributions by waterfowl hunters.

Required Determinations

    For this final rule, we affirm the following required 
determinations provided in our June 23, 2021, proposed rule (86 FR 
     National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
     Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.);
     Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);
     Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 
U.S.C. 804(2));
     Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);
     Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and
     Executive Orders 12630, 12866, 12988, 13132, 13175, 13211, 
and 13563.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 91

    Hunting, Wildlife.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 91, subchapter G of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 301; 16 U.S.C. 718j; 31 U.S.C. 9701.

2. Revise Sec.  91.14 to read as follows:

Sec.  91.14  Restrictions on subject matter for entry.

    A live portrayal of any bird(s) of the five or fewer identified 
eligible waterfowl species must be the dominant feature of the design. 
The design may depict more than one of the eligible species. The 
judges' overall mandate is to select the best design that will make an 
interesting, useful, and attractive duck stamp that will be accepted 
and prized by hunters, stamp collectors, conservationists, and others. 
The design must be the contestant's original hand-drawn creation. The 
entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published 
art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on 
the internet. Photographs, computer-generated art, or art produced from 
a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (airbrush 
method excepted) are not eligible to be entered into the contest and 
will be disqualified. An entry submitted in a prior contest that was 
not selected for a Federal or State stamp design may be submitted in 
the current contest if the entry meets the criteria set forth in this 

3. Amend Sec.  91.21 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:

Sec.  91.21  Selection and qualification of contest judges.

* * * * *
    (b) Qualifications. The panel of five judges will comprise 
individuals who have one or more of the following prerequisites: 
Recognized art credentials, knowledge of the anatomical makeup and the 
natural habitat of the eligible waterfowl species, an understanding of 
the wildlife sporting world in which the Duck Stamp is used, an 
awareness of philately and the role the Duck Stamp plays in stamp 
collecting, and demonstrated support for the conservation of waterfowl 
and wetlands through active involvement in the conservation community.
* * * * *

4. Revise Sec.  91.23 to read as follows:

Sec.  91.23  Scoring criteria for contest.

    Entries will be judged on the basis of anatomical accuracy, 
artistic composition, and suitability for reduction in the production 
of a stamp.

Shannon A. Estenoz,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2021-18479 Filed 8-24-21; 11:15 am]