Combining duck, pheasant and turkey stamps into one habitat stamp would be a mistake for Wisconsin
The annual spring fish and game hearings that will be held in every county on Monday, April 14 include a question that could be a death knell for wildlife stamps.
The question proposes combining all of the state hunting stamps into one habitat stamp.
The intent is noble, to simplify the process of going hunting, and increases revenues by requiring every hunter, including deer hunters, to buy a stamp.
But the problem is that it will most likely do away with stamp art contests, the sales of stamps to collectors of duck, pheasant and turkey stamps, and start a trend that could undermine the federal duck stamp.
All state stamps imitate the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, known as the duck stamp. It was started in 1934 when Ding Darling drew the very first stamp. That year federal government required every duck and goose hunter to buy a stamp for $1 to hunt waterfowl.
That program has successfully bought more than 5 million acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat. In Wisconsin, funds were used to buy the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Necedah National Wildlife Refuges and many waterfowl production areas.
A national effort is now underway to raise the current price of the $15 stamp to $25, and it is facing an uphill battle as some “no-more-tax” people don’t want any fee increase. Yet many waterfowlers, realizing they will benefit in the long run, say they are willing to pay the increased fee if it means buying more habitat.
The purchasing power of a duck stamp has shrunk over the years, and now is the time to buy land that otherwise will be lost to the plow, drain tile, or concrete.
Waterfowlers need to support the price increase. Today’s hunters need to follow in the conservation footsteps of Ding Darling and Teddy Roosevelt by joining the Friends of the Duck Stamp (http://www.friendsofthestamp.org/the-2013-2014-migratory-bird-hunting-and-conservation-duck-stamp/) to support the price increase and volunteer to buy two duck stamps each year!
If Wisconsin needs more habitat revenue, consider a separate stamp for woodland habitat work (to benefit grouse and deer) rather than doing away with the successful duck, pheasant and turkey stamps.
Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.