Now more than ever it’s important that you, someone who finds pleasure in birds, buy a duck stamp, officially known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.
It’s important because duck stamp money, as you know, is used to buy and lease land for national wildlife refuges and waterfowl management land. Hunting is an issue for some birders. The issue should be the rapid and ongoing loss of waterfowl habitat, land better called just plain bird habitat. It’s being drained and planted with corn and soybeans. Birders need to step up because the number of waterfowl hunters — the people who have carried this effort for decades, is declining at an alarming rate.
In the past 30 years sale of the stamp, required to hunt waterfowl, has declined by 700,000. That’s a loss of more than $10 million annually. That’s a lot of habitat, land used by far more non-game birds — songbirds — than waterfowl.
Stamp sales to hunters are down for two basic reasons: first, hunters are getting old, dying, and not being replaced by the sons and nephews who once shared hunting experiences with fathers, uncles, and grandfathers. Also, the loss of waterfowl nesting habitat means fewer waterfowl — ducks mostly — fewer to hunt.
Great efforts to turn this around are being made by organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and Pheasants Forever. They need our help, though. They need us to buy the stamp, and/even join their organizations and support their efforts.
The price of the stamp was raised last year, by Congress, from $15 to $25. What really increases is our chance to contribute more to the land-purchase efforts.
In mid-December, on the Outdoors pages of the StarTribune a headline read, “Empty skies, and diminishing hopes.” Aging hunters and lack of birds are prime reasons for that. Whatever the issue, stamp money is a simple, direct, non-political way to make a difference.
Most post offices and many stores selling hunting equipment have stamps for sale. Buy one. Buy two and give one to a child, explaining why the stamp is important, and perhaps help build a better future for birds of all kinds.
It’s a simple habitat issue. Less habitat, fewer birds of any kind. Birders have as large a stake and as important a role in saving habitat as do hunters. Birders have the growing numbers. We have to do our share.