DU President John Tomke Named Federal Duck Stamp Judge
Washington, D.C. October 5, 2004 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that Ducks Unlimited (DU) President John Tomke will serve as one of only five judges in the Federal Duck Stamp Competition this year. This marks the fifth time that a DU representative has judged the competition.
“It’s an honor to have Ducks Unlimited involved once again in judging the stamp contest and it’s a personal pleasure for me,” said Tomke. “The result of duck hunter support to assure the future of waterfowl populations is tangible in DU’s habitat projects and through the Duck Stamp program, too. Both will be valuable for generations to come.”
Last night, DU hosted the prestigious Duck Stamp Dinner in downtown Washington D.C. honoring the federal duck stamp judges.
“Ducks Unlimited and the Federal Duck Stamp Program have a long and often intertwined history of habitat conservation,” said Tomke. “The two hunter-supported efforts have been around for about the same amount of time and have combined to conserve over 16 million acres of waterfowl habitat.”
The Federal Duck Stamp Program began in 1934 with the signing of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act. The Act requires all waterfowl hunters 16 or older to purchase a stamp. The money is used to buy wetlands and associated upland habitats. To date, $670 million duck stamp dollars have conserved more than 5.2 million acres of habitat.
DU got started three years later in 1937 when a small group of sportsmen banned together to conserve habitat on North America’s waterfowl breeding grounds. Now, DU is the world’s largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation group, with more than a million supporters and conservation programs throughout Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. DU has raised more than $2 billion to conserve more than 11 million acres of waterfowl habitat.
Because the Duck Stamp program and DU have a common mission to conserve waterfowl habitat, the two efforts often join forces. Earlier this year, DU signed an agreement to manage the Federal Duck Stamp licensing program. Under the agreement, DU is helping the Fish & Wildlife Service broaden the awareness of the Federal Duck Stamp Program and the role it plays in conservation efforts. Like DU's current licensing programs that raise money for waterfowl and habitat, royalties generated from the sale of products with the stamp images will conserve more waterfowl habitat.
“The Federal Duck Stamp Program is an important source of funding for habitat conservation,” explains Tomke. “Not only does it generate money through direct sales and licensing, but also through print and stamp collections.”
For example, the first duck stamp, designed by Ding Darling, may bring as much as $1,200 today. This year, Darling’s family, through his grandson Kip Koss, donated one of the few remaining prints of the first federal duck stamp to Ducks Unlimited. DU auctioned the print at their Annual Convention in May, raising valuable dollars for habitat conservation work.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation group. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystems – and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres every year.
Look for Ducks Unlimited on the World Wide Web at www.ducks.org. Tune in to The World of Ducks Unlimited Radio, and watch Ducks Unlimited Television on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN).