Monday, April 03, 2006

Hunters, The True Saviors Of Wildlife

Just one specific example of how hunting maintains wildlife, and wildlife habitat.

Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Ducks Stamps,” are pictorial stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. They are not valid for postage. Originally created in 1934 as the federal licenses required for hunting migratory waterfowl, Federal Duck Stamps have a much larger purpose today.

Federal Duck Stamps are a vital tool for wetland conservation. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Understandably, the Federal Duck Stamp Program has been called one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated and is a highly effective way to conserve America’s natural resources.

Besides serving as a hunting license and a conservation tool, a current year’s Federal Duck Stamp also serves as an entrance pass for National Wildlife Refuges where admission is normally charged. Duck Stamps and the products that bear duck stamp images are also popular collector items.

In 1989, the first Junior Duck Stamps were produced. Junior Duck Stamps are now the capstone of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Junior Duck Stamp environmental education program, teaching students across the nation “conservation through the arts.” Revenue generated by the sales of Junior Duck Stamps funds environmental education programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 territories (American Samoa and the Virgin Islands).

Today, many states also issue their own versions of duck stamps. In some states, the stamps are purely a collector’s item, but in others, the stamps have a similar role in hunting and conservation as federal duck stamps.

How do Duck Stamps benefit wildlife?

Since 1934, the sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated more than $670 million, which has been used to help purchase or lease over 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the U.S. These lands are now protected in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System.

Waterfowl are not the only wildlife to benefit from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. Numerous other bird, mammal, fish, reptile, and amphibian species that rely on wetland habitats have prospered. Further, an estimated one-third of the Nation's endangered and threatened species find food or shelter in refuges established using Federal Duck Stamp funds.

People, too, have benefited from the Federal Duck Stamp Program. Hunters have places to enjoy their hunting heritage and other outdoor enthusiasts have places to hike, watch birds, and visit. Moreover, the protected wetlands help purify water supplies, store flood water, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, and provide spawning areas for fish important to sport and commercial fishermen.

Source: The Federal Duck Stamp