Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

‘E’ federal waterfowl stamp likely to continue

Washington – For the past three years, Minnesota waterfowlers
have had the added convenience – albeit, with added cost – of being
able to purchase a federal duck stamp (required for duck and goose
hunting) electronically, via license vendors or the DNR’s
website.

The option was made possible because of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service “pilot” program; Minnesota was one of eight states to take
part, beginning in 2007.

Now, three years later, the pilot project probably will
continue, as the U.S. House seeks a two-year extension of the
program.

“We really aren’t ready to make it a program nationwide,” USFWS
spokesperson Rachel Levin said earlier this week from
Washington.

The federal agency surveyed participating states last year to
determine the good and the bad of the pilot. Levin said USFWS
officials would meet with counterparts from participating states in
the near future to “evaluate how it’s working, and what issues need
to be worked on.”

Levin said when states accepted the invitation to take part in
the pilot (legislation said up to 15 states could be invited), they
were given latitude to mold the program to fit individual state’s
need.

Of the issues that have been raised, so far, “none affect the
fundamental way the program is conducted,” she said.

In Minnesota, the e-option has been well received, according to
Steve Michaels, DNR electronic licensing system program leader –
even though the stamp costs $2 more ($17 versus $15) than it would
if the actual stamp were purchased at a post office, for example.
Some sporting goods stores also carried the stamp.

“From my point of view, it’s gone really well,” Michaels said.
“The convenience is fantastic.”

Minnesota waterfowlers’ acceptance of the electronic option has
increased since the inception of the pilot program. During the
first year, in 2007, about 22,000 waterfowlers chose the option.
(Minnesota has an estimated 80,000 to 90,000 active waterfowlers,
and some non-hunters also purchase the federal duck stamp,
considered a collectors item.)

Michaels said the electronic federal stamp option became
available in September, so some hunters likely had already
purchased their federal and state duck stamps.

In 2008, more than 60,000 Minnesota waterfowlers and others
bought the “e” version. Those who purchased that license
endorsement later received the actual stamp in the mail.

Last year, nearly 80,000 federal e-stamps were bought in the
state, Michaels said.

“From the customers’ standpoint, I think (the program) has gone
real, real good,” he said.

Implementation two years ago went smoothly, since the state had
an electronic system up and running years prior to the federal
offering. Michaels said it was a matter of adding the federal duck
stamp to the program, and setting up with a vendor the issuance of
the paper stamp.

Costs incurred were covered by the extra $2 charged license
buyers, he added.

“Most people are saying it’s slick; they like it,” Michaels
said. Most questions, he said, came from people wondering why two
prices were being charged for the same stamp.

Originally, nine states were chosen to take part in the pilot –
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland,
Texas, and New York. New York, however, later backed away from
participating, Levin said.

In a 2007 press release, the USFWS referred to the e-stamp
option as “one way to improve service to duck stamp purchasers, in
particular, those from rural or remote areas.”

According to the USFWS, funds from the federal Duck Stamp are
vital for wetlands conservation, with 98 cents of every dollar
generated used to purchase or lease a wetland habitat for the
national wildlife refuge system.

Since 1934, about 120 million federal ducks stamps have been
purchased nationwide, and about $670 million has been raised for
wetlands conservation, according to the USFWS.

This week, the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and
Wildlife was scheduled to hear testimony on HR 3805, which would
extend the e-stamp pilot program for two years.

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