Waterfowlers Split on Proposed Duck Stamp Price Increase
The price of the federal duck stamp has not changed since 1991. At the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, President Obama added a provision to increase the price to his 2013 budget proposal.
The cost of the duck stamp, officially called the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, would increase by $10 if the measure passes, bringing the price to $25.
Vaughn Collins, director of governmental affairs at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said that although the waterfowl community has been discussing it for the past seven to ten years, the fee has not increased since 1991 when it went from $12.5o to $15. Before then, the price steadily increased in the 1980s and gradually over time to meet inflation. The original price in the first year of the stamp, 1934, was $1, which would be $16.11 in 2010 dollars accounting for inflation.
In an interview with Wildfowl Magazine, Collins said there is some opposition within Congress to raise the price. Many Republican lawmakers are opposed to raising any fee, while many sportsmen and women are also concerned about the hike. Some opponents of the price hike say that hunting is increasingly becoming a rich man’s sport as fees go up and new ones are added everywhere, not to mention the price of gear.
Other hunters raised concerns about the state of the economy as a reason for their objection to the price hike, saying that a price increase will only be acceptable when economic conditions improve.
Despite the resistance from politicians and hunters, there is also support for the measure throughout the waterfowling community. Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Pheasants Forever and a number of other pro-hunting conservation organizations all support the increase.
The Duck Stamp Program is touted as one of the most successful conservation programs in history. Currently, an estimated 98 percent of every duck stamp dollar raised goes directly toward land purchases and maintaining established habitat. The $10 increase would generate an additional $18 million to $24 million in revenue for waterfowl conservation.
The bill also included a stipulation that will leave it up to the Department of the Interior to decide on future increases instead of Congress. That will spare increases from going through a long, drawn-out legislative process as they have in the past.