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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Great Value in Duck Stamps

Revenue generated from duck stamp sales vital to wetlands, waterfowl conservation
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2009 Duck Stamp winner
The 2009 Duck Stamp (courtesy of FWS.gov)

by Dale Humburg

I was once asked, "How far can you send a mallard with a duck stamp?" The answer: "Not as far as you used to."

That's because the price of the Federal Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, commonly referred to as the duck stamp, has not increased since 1991. During this same time frame, the cost of a gallon of gasoline has risen from about $1 to as high as $4 last summer (although prices have sharply declined since that time). And the costs of a gallon of milk, a box of corn flakes, and a loaf of bread have doubled during the same period. The buying power of duck stamp revenues has also not kept pace with the cost of wetland and upland acreage. While many other products have dramatically increased in price, the duck stamp has stagnated at $15.

Just to cover increases in the consumer price index—a commonly used measure of inflation—a federal duck stamp would now have to cost about $23. Unfortunately for ducks, land values have increased even faster than many other commodities. Land prices have at least doubled across much of the prairie Duck Factory, rendering today's duck stamp revenues half as effective in conserving habitat as in the early 1990s. As a result, Ducks Unlimited is supporting bipartisan proposals that would immediately increase the price of the federal duck stamp to $25. This increase would be followed a few years later by another $10 increase, bringing the total price of a duck stamp to $35. The initial price increase would allow duck stamp revenues to keep pace with the consumer price index, while the second increase would help address rising conservation costs associated with increasing land values.

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