American Birding Association to birders: Buy duck stamps

Duck stamps long have been one of the most effective tools for conservation. Created in 1934, they’ve been necessary items for migratory waterfowl hunters since then. And 98 cents of every dollar generated from the sale of duck stamps goes right back into wetland habitat as part of the national wildlife refuge system.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, duck stamp sales in the past 80 years or so have generated more than  $800 million, which has resulted in the lease or purchase of more than 6 million acres of habitat across the United States.

Hunters, indeed, are key to conservation via their purchase of licenses and stamps (among many other activities), but there’s been some resentment over the years that hunters are footing the bill for places that benefit multitudes of others.

Birders, for example, use many of the same places that hunters do – and use places created or preserved as a result of the duck stamp funds that hunters generate. Unlike hunters, birders aren’t obligated to buy a stamp.

Many birders, to be sure, buy duck stamps. But not all.

So it was refreshing this week to see the American Birding Association, on its blog, called for birds to buy a duck stamp through its website.

Wrote Nate Swick, editor of the American Birding Association Blog: “It cannot be denied that the Duck Stamp, formally called the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, is a wonderfully effective conservation program. It also cannot be denied that many birders have been hesitant to go all-in on this conservation tool for understandable reasons. Some birders find waterfowl hunting distasteful and don’t want to feel as though they’re supporting it. But mostly, it is the concern that the numbers of non-consumptive users of National Wildlife Refuges are not tallied, and the true support of birders for habitat and bird conservation is not accurately assessed.

“We use refuges, too. We are proud to support them. We want a seat at the table, too, alongside our friends in the hunting community because in the end, our common goals of habitat protection and healthy bird populations far outweigh the little that divides us.”

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