WASHINGTON – Jan. 26, 2012 – The U.S. House of Representatives' Jan. 23 vote on bill H.R. 3117 could mean permanent easy access for hunters looking to buy their federal duck stamps online. The e-Duck Stamp program, started four years ago on a trial basis, allows hunters 16 and older to purchase temporary duck stamps online until their physical stamps arrive in the mail.
Prior to this pilot program, waterfowl hunters were required to buy federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamps, or duck stamps, at post offices and sporting goods stores. The trouble came when suppliers ran out of stamps early in the season or small rural post offices didn’t carry the stamps at all.
Ducks Unlimited's Scott Sutherland, director of the Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources to keep the e-Duck Stamp program alive after its pilot period ended. He lauded the bill's sponsor, Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia.
"The trial that was arranged under the Electronic Duck Stamp Act legislation has worked," Sutherland testified in October 2011. "Because of its success in making federal duck stamps easier to obtain, while preserving the heritage and utility of the traditional stamps and attendant art, Ducks Unlimited supports the proposal to make this program permanent."
Originally enacted in 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp was created as a federal waterfowl hunting license and a means to conserve waterfowl habitat. The program has generated more than $800 million to protect more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the United States, land now part of the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System. The stamps now cost $15 per year, with 98 percent of revenue going straight to land purchases, easements and leases.
"For generations, the funds that waterfowlers spend create jobs, pay for conservation programs, and the duck stamp is a good example of the effort to invest in the resource we care for," Sutherland said. "Funds from the purchase of this stamp go toward conserving land beneficial to the public and waterfowl across the country. Ducks Unlimited stands firmly behind this program, and we are seeking support from Congress to make this important online component permanent."
Now that the House has responded positively to this push for the program, with a 373-1 vote, DU is asking the Senate to do the same. If the Senate vote is successful, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have the authority to make the program permanent and extend it to all states.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.