Support a New Wildlife Conservation Stamp

WildlifeConservationStamp.org is a collaborative effort to promote a new wildlife stamp and funding stream for our National Wildlife Refuges. We are birders, photographers, conservationists, wildlife rehabilitators, scientists, teachers and artists … joined by a common passion and concern for our nation’s wildlife and wild habitats.

We propose the Wildlife Conservation Stamp to provide a consistent source of income for our Refuges, separate but parallel to the current Federal Duck Stamp program. The Wildlife Conservation Stamp would raise fees from the millions of non-consumptive users, wildlife viewers and conservationists — to help ensure a thriving future for our National Wildlife Refuge System and all of its inhabitants.

You can read the full proposal and FAQ at our website, and see a summary of our points below in this post.

Join Our Community

We are looking for bird enthusiasts, photographers, bloggers, biologists, hikers, conservationists, wildlife rehabilitators, scientists, teachers, artists and anyone else with a common passion and concern for our nation’s wildlife and wild habitats to join us in encouraging our legislators to create this alternative stamp.

If this sounds like a great idea to you and you are involved in conservation or wildlife preservation, please send me an email with a short bio and a photo (at least 150 x 150 pixels) to place on our About Us page. We will keep you updated on our progress in this endeavor and entertain suggestions on the best way to implement our proposal.

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word, feel free to download our badges and graphics to use in conjunction with your post. You can also use text from our proposal for your purposes.

You can also show your support by joining our Facebook community. Click “LIKE”  on our FB page and get updates and information in your newsfeed.

Wildlife Conservation Stamp

 

Excerpted from the Proposal

[Full proposal]

A birder, wildlife watcher, photographer and non-hunter version of the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (aka Federal Duck Stamp).
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Why a Separate Wildlife Conservation Stamp?

Federal Wildlife Conservation Stamp would provide a robust, parallel revenue stream for National Wildlife Refuges, preserving habitat and wildlife, while giving non-extractive users a funding tool and a stronger voice in habitat and wildlife decisions on our shared, public lands.
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Why Many Wildlife Watchers Don’t Buy the Duck Stamp

Among birders and wildlife watchers, there’s little disagreement about supporting our 560 National Wildlife Refuges, along with the habitat and wildlife they sustain. Most wildlife watchers are anxious to contribute their resources toward that end. Disagreements tend to occur, however, when the subject of the Federal Duck Stamp arises. The concerns tend to fall into the following categories:

  1. Duck Stamp purchases by non-hunters are not accurately accounted for — which means that when critical decisions are made about Refuge priorities, non-extractive users are forgotten in favor of hunters and anglers. As Mike Bergin wrote at the 10,000 Birds blog, “Apparently, when it comes time to calculate the financial contributions of the different sectors of outdoor enthusiasts, only hunters and anglers put up worthwhile cash, in part through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.”
  2. Because of this accounting, hunters have disproportionate influence and use of Refuge lands during the height of fall and winter migratory bird season. In some cases, large portions of, or entire Wildlife Refuges are closed to the non-hunting public during this time.
  3. Historically, National Wildlife Refuges viewed the “Duck Factory” (game bird conservation) as a high priority, while relegating non-game issues to a lower rung. It’s only in recent years that Refuges have fully acknowledged this gap in resource allocation, but funding is still not nearly adequate to achieve all resource goals.
  4. Hunters and groups like the NRA consistently leverage the power of Duck Stamp funding to promote hunter-friendly agendas (such as expansion of hunting rights on refuges) sometimes overriding the voices of non-hunters whose wildlife considerations are often different yet equally valid.

The Benefits of a Wildlife Conservation Stamp

A 2011 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 71.1 million wildlife watchers in the U.S., and 13.7 million hunters. Wildlife watchers outnumber hunters significantly, and they spend $55 billion dollars each year in the pursuit of wildlife activities. In other words, there is a large and enthusiastic source of untapped revenue from wildlife watchers, one that could be rendered viable through the dedicated funding stream of a Wildlife Conservation Stamp. Benefits:

  • A Wildlife Conservation Stamp would dedicate funding for species and habitat projects that are sometimes short-changed in favor of game animal priorities. It would be separate but parallel to Duck Stamp revenue, and a symbiotic addition to Refuge budgets.
  • Birders, photographers and wildlife watchers, through this financial avenue, could have a voice in Refuge diversity as well as in innovative research, education and habitat programs.
  • A Wildlife Conservation Stamp could fund additional opportunities for birders and photographers — such as new observation and photography blinds, or access to areas traditionally reserved for hunters. There are large portions of National Wildlife Refuges closed off to all but hunters. Those sections include hunting blinds and free-roam areas that non-extractive users never have access to — even after hunting season ends.
  • The Wildlife Conservation Stamp could feature a contest for wildlife photographers who would compete for the winning image in the same way Duck Stamp artists do. The price of entry for Duck Stamp artists is $125. A similar fee could be implemented for a photography contest, further supplementing revenue for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
  • Wildlife watchers could advocate for the Wildlife Conservation Stamp together, as a powerful unified group, without the misgivings and debates that tend to arise over the existing Duck Stamp and its traditional association with hunters and hunting interests.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I applaud this wonderful effort.

    As you know, Ingrid, I do not photograph birds, draw or paint birds, watch birds through binoculars, list birds, or even rehab birds. I simply enjoy being in their presence, listening to their music, gazing at them in flight or resting on branches, and feeding a few of them — plus a sunflower-seed-addicted squirrel — in my front yard. (I occasionally find injured nestlings, who I bring to experienced wildlife rehabilitators. )

    My question: Will hunters who join the the Wildlife Conservation Stamp program and buy its stamps be allowed to influence the organization’s proposals and policies and practices in favor of continued hunting in federal wildlife refuges? If so, that concerns me.

    I suppose it shouldn’t! For if all 71 million non-extractive/non-consumptive wildlife watchers bought this new stamp, their votes and voices would so heavily outweigh those of the 13 million hunters and anglers that the latter’s influence would be blessedly blunted.

    • says

      CQ, a significant provision of the legislation we’ll be drafting is how the monies will be dispensed. In the proposal, we’ve generalized the statement to funding “non-game” and non-extractive endeavors. That’s precisely why we believe a separate income stream is needed … to give “non-consumptive” users of refuges a vehicle of their own through which to direct funding, habitat and project priorities. I believe that hunters who are genuine conservationists will see the benefit and, actually, the inevitability of a stamp that reflects a dramatically changed demographic. To that effect, we have two bird conservationists in our supporters’ section who have also hunted, but who believe strongly enough in this alternative to lend their names to our efforts. Based on feedback we’ve received, my inclination is to say that people who currently purchase the Duck Stamp will continue to do so, since the Duck Stamp has been a source of pride for waterfowl hunters, with funds going toward habitat acquisition. But, those who currently feel uncomfortable purchasing stamps that have been traditionally associated with hunting interests, will have a way to exercise their commensurate enthusiasm for wildlife and wild lands by purchasing a stamp that validates their ecological priorities.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment, Bea. Here’s the deal with the Duck Stamp. A vast majority of the funds raised through the Duck Stamp go to habitat restoration. Funds from stamps have purchased about 3 percent of Refuge lands, with the rest coming from a migratory bird fund and public monies.

      Since it’s inception, the Duck Stamp has been known by most as a hunting stamp, because it’s a mandatory purchase for hunters who want to hunt on refuges. Collectors and birders, too, have purchased the stamp but their purchases are not counted separately. The association with hunting interests keeps many from buying the stamp, both practically and philosophically.

      Given how many more people now engage in “non-extractive” outdoor pursuits, and how many have been frustrated by the current system which doesn’t account for this demographic in practical or financial terms, those of us behind this effort feel that a separate fee structure for our Refuges is long overdue.

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