The entries for the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Contest are now available for viewing. Judging will be done later this month to choose the image for the 2013-14 stamp. The chances of a painting by a Minnesota artist winning the competition are smaller this year. That’s because only one of the three Hautman brothers, Robert, has entered.
Brothers Joe and Jim could not enter because winners are prohibited from entry for three years following the win. Joe won the contest last year and Jim the year before. All three are Minnesota residents. Combined, they have won the contest 10 times. A win by Robert this year would give the brothers three in a row.
You can see this year’s entries at http://www.outdoorsweekly.com/DuckStamps/index.html
The contest will be Sept. 28-29 in Odgen, Utah. It’s open to the public, admission free. Final rounds of judging will be streamed on-line at www.fws.gov/duckstamps. The five species eligible for presentation this year are: Canada Goose, Northern Shoveler, Common Goldeneye, Brant and Ruddy Duck.
Funds raised by sale of the stamp support one of the world's most successful conservation programs – purchase of land for national wildlife refuges and waterfowl conservation land. The stamp currently sells for $15. Annual sales, although down from historic highs, are 1.5 million.
Waterfowl hunters age 16 or older are required to buy a federal stamp. A current stamp also provides free admission into any refuge open to the public. There are 550 National Wildlife Refuges spread across all 50 states and U.S. territories, offering wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities, including excellent bird-watching and photography.
Every birder should buy a duck stamp. The $15 investment cannot be matched for efficiency. You might be critical of some government programs, but 98 cents of every dollar raised by this one is spent on land purchase or lease. It’s as good a conservation investment as you can make. The habitat preserved by national refuges are vital to hundreds of bird species other than waterfowl, not to mention mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, wild flowers, and on and on.\
Also take a look at a new organization formed to encourage stamp purchase – Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp. Go to http://www.friendsofthestamp.org/. You also can find the duck stamp Friends on Facebook. New members are welcome. Encouraging stamp purchases is an effort that needs help. Waterfowl-hunter numbers are declining. People who do not hunt waterfowl are needed to provide support for the program. These funds are essential to growth and maintenance of the wildlife refuge system.