Stamp Art Chosen for 2017-2018 Stamp

James Hautman, a skilled wildlife artist from Chaska, Minnesota, became the winner of the 2016 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest on September 10.  His winning painting was chosen among 152 art pieces by five judges at the contest, an event held at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Jim Hautman's acrylic painting of three flying Canada Geese will be made into the 2017-2018 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or "Duck Stamp," which will go on sale in late June, 2017.  This is actually Jim Hautman's remarkable fifth Federal Duck Stamp Contest win, tying him with his brother, Joseph. His art previously appeared on the stamps for 1991-1992 (Black-bellied Whistling-Duck), 1995-1996 (Mallard), 1999-2000 (Greater Scaup), and 2011-2012 (White-fronted Goose).

Rebekah Knight of Appleton City, Missouri, placed second in the contest with her acrylic painting of a single Brant. She has been captivated by the program at least since she won the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, with a Redhead appearing on the 2006-2007 Junior Duck Stamp.

And the third place winner was Robert Hautman of Delano, Minnesota, with his acrylic painting of a pair of Canada Geese. Robert, brother of James and Joseph, previously won the contests for the 1997-1998 and 2001-2002 stamps.

Eligible species for this year's Federal Duck Stamp Contest were Canada Goose, Brant, Northern Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser, and Steller's Eider.

The five judges for this year's Federal Duck Stamp Contest were Jan Martin McGuire, an internationally renowned wildlife artist; Keith Russell, program manager for urban conservation with Audubon Pennsylvania; Dr. Nathan H. Rice, Ornithology Collection Manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences; John P. Booth, executive director of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art; and Sue deLearie Adair, an artist, birder, and avid naturalist.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service produces the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp, which currently sells for $25. The annual proceeds range from $25 million to nearly $42 million, depending on the price of the stamp. The proceeds go to conserve wetland, bottomland, and grassland habitats for the National Wildlife Refuge System for the benefit of waterfowl as well as other birds and wildlife. Investments of stamp dollars have gone into securing habitat at 253 different National Wildlife Refuges and have helped preserve about three million additional acres in smaller Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs)

In addition, 2016 as been a particularly significant year for bird conservation in that the year marks the centennial celebration of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which was signed between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) in 1916.

The Beauty and Practicality of the 2016-2017 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp

The latest Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (popularly called the "Duck Stamp" and costing $25) was released at a ceremony on the morning of June 24 in Springfield, Missouri, at the conference center adjacent to the Bass Pro Shops there.

Almost all the revenue for the sales of this Stamp – adding up to an estimated $40 million for the year – will go directly to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF). (The MBCF receipts come mainly from the sales of the Stamp and from import duties collected on arms and ammunition.) This dedicated funding will secure vital breeding, stopover, and wintering habitats for waterfowl, other bird species, and other wildlife across the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Today, parts of 252 National Wildlife Refuges (accounting for more than 2.37 million acres) and over 200 Waterfowl Production Areas (with over 3.0 million acres secured) owe their existence to the Stamp investments made through the MBCF. It is encouraging to know that every time you buy a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp you are helping secure valuable habitat for birds, wildlife, and for future generations of Americans enjoying the Refuge System.

The artwork on the 2015-2016 Stamp shows a pair of flying Trumpeter Swans painted in acrylic by Joseph Hautman, of Plymouth, Minnesota. This is the fifth time that Joe Hautman's artwork has graced the Federal Duck Stamp. His four previous Stamps were for 1992-3 (Spectacled Eider), 2002-3 (Black Scoter), 2008-9 (Northern Pintail), and 2012-13 (Wood Duck). From an early age he loved to draw and paint, but he quickly became fascinated by the sciences as well. His artistic talents took a back seat during his academic life when he studied physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Michigan. His surprise victory in the 1991 Federal Duck Art Contest provided just the incentive he needed to return professionally to his love of wildlife art. Among his many activities, Joseph Hautman is also on the board of our Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp.

The species pictured, Trumpeter Swan, is very special. It represents a real American conservation success story. This swan historically suffered huge population declines. By 1933, fewer than 70 wild Trumpeter Swans were known to exist, and extinction seemed a real possibility. Aerial surveys, however, discovered a Pacific population of several thousand trumpeters in Alaska. Increased conservation efforts have resulted in native western populations recovering. In addition, reintroductions to the central part of the continent – mostly around the Great Lakes – have also proven to be highly successful. It is also important to appreciate that this swan species is not hunted, emphasizing the fact that the stamp is not simply “for hunting,” but its purpose is essentially to secure valuable habitat to conserve waterfowl and other species through the National Wildlife Refuge System.

For more on the contest and the program see the website for the Federal Duck Stamp Office.


A Classic Stamp T-shirt

The Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp has a new stamp-support t-shirt. It features an image of the classic first stamp, with the wonderful artwork by Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. The message on the shirt is simple – "Securing Wildlife Habitat Since 1934."  Through the t-shirt, we wish to spread the word about the unique role that the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp provides.

The price ($11.20 plus shipping and handling) is being kept as low as possible, to get the t-shirt in the hands – and on the backs – of bird advocates and conservationists across the country.

Our t-shirts come in traditional men's style only, in sizes S, M, L, XL, and 2XL.

This t-shirt may be just what you are looking for in the way of the perfect gift this holiday season!  Order now, or get more information about this great shirt.

MBCF/Stamp Easement Acquisitions

Easement Acquisition

The revealing chart – above – from the Division of Realty (USFWS) shows the percentage of Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF) dollars going into easements in the Refuge System since the early 1960s.

Easements, of course, are becoming increasingly important for preserving valuable habitats, as clearly indicated on the chart. These have shown impressive growth since the early 1990s, and they have been highly impressive engines of conservation in the last decade.

A wetland easement pays a landowner to permanently protect wetlands. Wetlands covered by an easement cannot be drained, filled, leveled, or burned. (When these wetlands dry up naturally, however, they can be farmed, grazed, or hayed.) Land covered by a permanent grassland easement may not be cultivated. Mowing, haying, and grass seed harvesting must be delayed until after July 15 each year to protect nesting birds.

In the chart, the grassland, wetland, and habitat easement categories all refer to the specific easement documents described in the Service Manual Chapter 341 FW 6. These types of permanent easements, to protect Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), are mainly acquired in the five states in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), primarily on working ranches or agricultural lands.

Region 6, the mountain-prairie region covering eight states in the American West, and Region 3, the Midwest region also covering eight states, use the same wetland easement standards (shown in  dark blue) in the PPR, but they used them somewhat differently.

Region 6 uses the "grassland easement" document (shown in  green), and Region 3 uses the "habitat easement" document (shown in  purple). Region 3 habitat easement also includes some additional wetlands protection not present in the Region 6 grassland easement.

The "other conservation easement" category (shown in  gold) encompasses all other conservation easements. These habitat easements differ from, and are generally more restrictive than, the minimally restrictive easements described above, with specialized easement terms set through negotiations with landowners.

Summarizing, these wetland, grassland, and habitat easements are the three types of easements that the USFWS uses to acquire for Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) in the PPR, whereas the "other conservation easement" category encompasses all easements acquired for National Wildlife Refuges.

Easements have a vital role to play these days, primarily for waterfowl but also for long-legged waders, shorebirds, terns, gulls, rails, and wetland-associated songbirds. But grassland birds, especially grassland songbirds and a cluster of shorebird species, are benefiting greatly. Easements are the crucial conservation connector for many working lands. Hundreds of landowners in the PPR – especially in the Dakotas – are awaiting permanent easement agreements with the USFWS.

There is a lot more information available from the USFWS on the Wetland Easement Program and the Grassland Easement Program.

Support a Campaign for the Stamp


There are many ways to help support the growth and appreciation of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp. The print public service announcement (PSA) for the Stamp shown here is just one way. There are many others we recommend for your consideration. 

Join our Friends Group and support its work.

Don't just buy the Stamp, display it. Get a stamp in a plastic holder for your personal use, or purchase blank holders in bulk for your organization, club, or group.

Stay connected!

See the many materials that are available to help support the Stamp, including posters, the PSAs and a listing of the "top ten reasons" to buy the Stamp.

You and your refuge friends group, duck club, birding club, or photography club can sell Stamps.  The best way is through consignments from Amplex.

Write an article in support of the Stamp for your nature/bird/hunting organization, using materials provided here.

Except where noted, web site content by Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This license allows sharing and a right to adapt the written materials, with appropriate credit.

Read even more: follow our links for related information and activities to support the Stamp.

Let us know what you think and how we can all do better to advance the cause of the Stamp.

Let us know if you want a speaker at your event, convention, conference, to speak on the importance of the Stamp.

Your Duck Stamp Dollars at Work

The image at left shows a Stamp-associated sign – "Your Duck Stamp Dollars At Work" – at an emergent marsh at the Pondicherry Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildife Refuge in Jefferson, New Hampshire. (You can see Cherry Mountain in the background, part of the White Mountain National Forest.)  Almost 30 percent of the Pondicherry Division has been acquired through Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF) dollars. The MBCF is where Stamp dollars are held prior to investment.

You can access an invaluable listing of every National Wildlife Refuge that has received funding through Stamp dollars here (updated as of April 2016). This involves 252 refuges in the lower 48 states.

Another way to look at the data is via the following interactive map of refuges across the country, prepared by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. The map is color-coded according to the percentage of land in each that was acquired with Duck Stamp/MBCF money.