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.