To the Editor:
Thank you so much for spotlighting the Federal Duck Stamp in your Nov. 30 article, “Gone Huntin’: Internet License Trades Convenience for Class.” It’s true that many states are moving from paper stamps and hunting and other recreational licenses to electronic systems, making it more convenient for hunters and anglers to obtain their licenses, even just hours before they want to head out into the field. This has in some cases meant the loss of artistic stamp programs such as the Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp.
Contrary to what the article might imply, however, the Federal Duck Stamp is still going strong after nearly 80 years. As you point out, the Federal Duck Stamp has raised hundreds of million dollars for conservation, and many states created waterfowl and other wildlife stamps modeled on the Federal Duck Stamp. The annual Federal Duck Stamp art competition has been a cherished tradition since 1949 (prior to 1949, Duck Stamp art was commissioned; 1949 saw the debut of the annual contest). We have an enthusiastic following of Duck Stamp collectors, and many hunters buy two Federal Duck Stamps — one to attach to their license and one to add to their collection or pass along to their children. Birders and other outdoor recreationists also buy Federal Duck Stamps as a simple way to invest in conservation, and as a collectible — many hang the stamps in plastic holders on their binoculars or backpacks.
Like the state of Massachusetts, the Federal Duck Stamp Program recognizes the convenience of expanded and electronic stamp sales, and in 2009, we began a pilot Electronic Duck Stamp Program that works through states’ electronic licensing programs, toll-free telephone numbers and websites. A hunter who buys an E-Stamp immediately receives a proof of purchase that can be taken into the field and used for up to 45 days. However, anyone who buys an Electronic Duck Stamp will still receive the actual stamp in the mail. The E-Stamp program has proven popular with hunters, but we have no plans to eliminate the stamp and art contest that have been such a tradition for so many years.
Again, thank you for using the beautiful 2011-2012 Federal Duck Stamp to illustrate your article and for highlighting the conservation successes of the Federal Duck Stamp. We encourage everyone — hunters and non-hunters alike — to buy a Duck Stamp (or two) and “put their stamp” on conservation.
Rachel F. Levin
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service