Stamp Contests

History of the Federal Duck Stamp

Every year the US fish & Wildlife Service sponsors a contest to select the artwork for the Federal Duck Stamp. As a result of this, hundreds of wildlife artists from across the Nation submit their work for judging by a panel of artists and wildlife experts. The winning art is used on the following year’s stamp.

This all began when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, as it is affectionately called, with the stroke of his pen in 1934. In signing the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (Act), one of the first and most successful of conservation programs in this Nation’s history was begun.

The Act mandates that all waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older purchase a stamp. Proceeds from sales, less the cost of producing the stamp, are used to purchase wetlands and associated upland habitats for inclusion in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the program’s inception, Duck Stamp sales have raised more than half-a-billion dollars to conserve over 5 million acres of crucial habitat throughout the United States and its territories. With this record of achievement, the Duck Stamp program has been called “one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated.”

Fortunately, the sale of stamps is not restricted to hunters. All citizens can purchase the stamp, which also can be used as an annual “seasons pass” to national wildlife refuges charging entrance fees. Conservationists purchase the stamp because they know that 98 cents of every dollar invested in the stamp permanently conserves wildlife habitat for future generations—a small investment will bring you and your family long-term returns. Philatelists purchase the stamp as a collectible—a $1 stamp purchased in 1934 may bring as much as $750 for a stamp in mint condition to about $250 for a stamp in poor condition today.

In providing the means to acquire habitat, the Duck Stamp Program offers a simple way for all citizens to participate in the conservation of a natural resource we all share: migratory birds and waterfowl.