Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), sat down with Ducks Unlimited to discuss the federal duck stamp and some of his other legislative priorities for sportsmen. Watch the full interview on DU’s Youtube channel.
You attended Ducks Unlimited’s Prairie Summit in North Dakota earlier this year. What were some of your key takeaways from the event?
When we gathered at the Prairie Summit in North Dakota, I think the major carry-away for me was a sense of urgency about the crisis that’s unfolding on the prairies.
If we think about the prairies – the grasslands and wetlands of North Dakota and South Dakota – they’re being squeezed on the west from the intensive energy development associated with the Bakken oil plate. They’re being squeezed from the east by the agricultural boom, the dramatic rise in commodity prices and the resulting conversion of wetlands and grasslands that are associated with that.
So, just a sense of urgency overall. The people who are concerned about the future of waterfowl and waterfowling as a tradition – that now is the time that we have to step up. We have to do more than we’ve ever done before. We have to put more effort, we have to put more dollars, we have to put more resources into the conservation of the breeding habitat of the prairie United States.
The federal duck stamp price of $15 has not been raised since 1991. Why is it important to raise the price?
The federal duck stamp has been one of the great success stories of conservation and has become one of the great traditions of waterfowling.
I think about my own experience: I bought my first duck stamp when I was a senior in high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1974. I paid $5 – well, my father paid $5 for that stamp. At that point in time, I could take myself and my girlfriend to the movies for $5 – for less than $5, actually. I think about today, the price of the duck stamp is $15. If my wife and I want to go to the movies, it will cost a lot more than $15.
There is again an urgency when we think about what’s happening with waterfowl and waterfowl habitat. I think there’s an urgency for the people who love the tradition of waterfowling to step up and demand that Congress raise the price of the duck stamp.
I want to commend Ducks Unlimited for your Double Up for the Ducks [effort]. I myself bought two duck stamps last year and I bought two duck stamps for my son. I think that we all should be doing that in the interim, but, ultimately, we need Congress to step up. We need Congress to meet this clarion pride and raise the price of the duck stamp so we can put more conservation on the ground to support waterfowl and the waterfowling tradition into the future.