Joseph Hautman, of Plymouth, Minnesota, won the 2015 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest on 19 September with his acrylic painting of a pair of flying Trumpeter Swans. This is Hautman's fifth Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest win. His previous wins were in 1991 (Spectacled Eider), 2001 (Black Scoter), 2007 (Northern Pintail), and 2011 (Wood Duck). From an early age Joe 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 the incentive he needed to return professionally to his love of wildlife art. Among his many activities, Joe Hautman is also on the board of our Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp. Hautman's fine painting will be made into the 2016-2017 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly called the Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2016.
The species pictured, Trumpeter Swan, represents a real American conservation success story. The species historically suffered huge population declines. By 1933, fewer than 70 wild Trumpeter Swans were known to exist, and extinction seemed possible. Aerial surveys, however, discovered a Pacific population of several thousand trumpeters in Alaska. Increased conservation efforts have resulted in native western populations recovering. Also, reintroductions to the central part of the continent – mostly around the Great Lakes – have also proven to be highly successful.