Hunters, bird watchers and stamp collectors celebrated as the 2023-2024 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp – commonly known as the Duck Stamp – went on sale. The new Federal Duck Stamp and its younger sibling, the Junior Duck Stamp, debuted today at a special event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid store in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It’s so very exciting to be with our partners again, in-person, at a special event for one of the most revered conservation programs in the entire country!” said Service Assistant Director, Migratory Bird Program, Jerome Ford. “I am so honored to be one of the first people to buy my Federal and Junior Duck Stamps and encourage others to join me as we all collectively contribute to the conservation of wetlands across the country.”
Painted by Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minnesota, the new Federal Duck Stamp will raise millions of dollars for habitat conservation which benefits wildlife and the American people. The three tundra swans featured on the new stamp is Hautman’s sixth Federal Duck Stamp designed for the Department of the Interior. His artwork was chosen in September 2022 from 187 entries in the country’s only federally regulated art contest.
The 2023-2024 Junior Duck Stamp, which also went on sale today, raises funds to support youth conservation education and this year features a hooded merganser painted by 15-year-old Mila Linyue Tong from Virginia.
The Federal Duck Stamp plays a critically important role in wildlife conservation. Since 1934, sales of this stamp have raised more than $1.2 billion to conserve over 6 million acres of wetlands habitat on national wildlife refuges around the nation.
Waterfowl are not the only species that benefit from wetland habitat conservation. Thousands upon thousands of shorebirds, herons, raptors and songbirds, as well as mammals, fish, native plants, reptiles and amphibians rely on these landscapes as well. In addition, endangered, threatened and other at risk species such as Birds of Conservation Concern like the reddish egret and long-billed curlew, use wetland and connected upland habitat to feed, breed, migrate, winter and rest.
The new duck stamps are available for purchase online, at sporting goods and retail stores, and some post offices and national wildlife refuges.
Funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go toward the acquisition and lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Duck Stamps – while required for waterfowl hunters as part of their annual license – are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of national wildlife refuges who understand the value of conserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation. Stamp and wildlife art collectors also value these miniature pieces of art and American history and contribute to conservation through their purchases of duck stamps.
A current Federal Duck Stamp is good for free admission to any that charges an entry fee. Of the 568 refuges, most offer unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography.
The Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest is the culmination of a year-long educational program that encourages students to learn about wetlands and waterfowl conservation, explore their natural world and create a painting or drawing of a duck, goose or swan as their “visual term paper” to demonstrate what they learned. Approximately 25,000 students in K-12th grades annual participate in the art contest.
The winning art at the national contest is made into a stamp the Service sells for $5 to conservationists, educators, students, collectors and the public. Proceeds support conservation education at the state and local level. Since the first Junior Duck Stamps went on sale in 1993, well over $1.4 million has been raised, which is re-invested in this unique conservation arts and science education program across the country.
The 2023 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest to select the 2024-2025 stamp will be held September 15-16 in Des Moines, Iowa.