Duck Stamp 80th Anniversary

Buying power at its lowest point in stamp's history
The federal duck stamp turns 80 on Sunday, March 16.

DU Chief Scientist Dale Humburg says he was once asked, “How far can you send a mallard with a duck stamp?” His answer: “Not as far as you used to.”

The History

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, or duck stamp, into law on March 16, 1934. The first federal duck stamp featured a drawing completed in just one hour by Jay “Ding” Darling of two mallards – it was meant as an initial sketch but was used as the final artwork to meet a quick printing deadline. 

The original stamp sold for $1 and the price has only been raised seven times in its history. Funds raised from federal duck stamp sales contribute to the conservation of important wetland habitat across the United States, but especially in the Prairie Pothole Region. Since its enactment, duck stamp sales have conserved more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat across the country.

Happening Now

The buying power of the federal duck stamp has never been lower over its 80-year history. It has been 23 years since the last increase to bring the price of the stamp to $15, the single longest period without a price increase in the program’s history. In the meantime, land values have dramatically increased. In Minnesota, for example, land has increased from an average price of $400 to $1,400 an acre since 1998, an increase of 250 percent. The Congressional Budget Office found that because the federal duck stamp is a user fee, such a price increase would have no net impact on federal spending.

Sen. Mark Begich (AK) is the lead sponsor of S. 1865, which would raise the price of the federal duck stamp to $25 (check out his video interview).

Ducks Unlimited supports this effort to ensure that the investment waterfowl hunters have made into protecting waterfowl habitat over the last 80 years is not wasted, and to continue the conservation tradition of the duck stamp. Ask your legislators to support raising the price of the federal duck stamp, too.