US Stamps

Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to reverse hunting element rule

Jun 24, 2021, 4 PM
A duck decoy is shown in the artwork for the 2019 federal duck stamp, following a rule put in place in 2018. The rule was made permanent in 2020, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now seeking to remove the requirement that hunting elements be included in duck stamp artwork.

By Michael Baadke

A permanent rule instituted last year that requires federal duck stamp artwork to depict some sort of hunting element might not be so permanent after all.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which issues and markets the annual migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp known as the federal duck stamp, filed a proposal June 23 to revise the regulations for its contest that chooses the artwork for the annual stamp.

If approved, the change would reverse the rule that makes it mandatory to include an element “celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage,” wording that was inserted into the duck stamp art contest rules in 2020.

The summary of the proposal says: “We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise the regulations governing the annual Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Contest (also known as the Federal Duck Stamp Contest (Contest)). Our proposed amendments would remove the previously specified permanent theme and the mandatory inclusion of an appropriate hunting element within all Contest entries and revise the qualifications of the judging panel to reflect this change. This change would be scheduled to begin with the 2022 Contest.”

The new regulation revision is posted online as docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2021-0048.

Public comments on the proposed change will be accepted if received by the Fish and Wildlife Service on or before July 23.

There are only two ways to leave a comment that will be considered: on the government regulations page (press the dark blue comment button near the top left section of the page), or by postal mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2021-0048, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: JAO/3W, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The requirement was first applied for the 2018 federal duck stamp art contest, which selected the art that eventually appeared on the federal stamp issued in 2019.

The 2019 $25 stamp (Scott RW86) reproduces Scot Storm’s painting of a wood duck in the foreground and a hunter’s decoy.

Initially a single-year change only, the revision was then given permanent status for the 2021 stamp and beyond.

“Since the implementation of the 2020 final regulations, many stakeholders have continued to express their dissatisfaction with this element being a requirement for all entries,” the Fish and Wildlife Service noted in a June 22 news release.

The Fish and Wildlife Service cautions that all artwork submitted for the 2021 art contest to decide the design of the 2022 federal duck stamp will need to follow the current existing regulation that insists upon the depiction of a hunting element.

Information about the federal duck stamp program can be found on the FWS website.

Though not valid for postage, the stamps are popularly collected and listed in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers under the heading Hunting Permit Stamps.

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