A U.S. Senate bill was placed in the hopper Dec. 19 that would boost the cost for a federal waterfowl stamp from $15 to $25.
The “duck stamp,” as it’s known, is an annual stamp that waterfowl hunters must purchase and attach to their hunting licenses in order to legally take ducks and geese, migratory species managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The last fee increase for duck stamps in 1991 increased the price to $15, so the fee has remained stable for 23 years. Meanwhile, fans of federally-purchased-and-maintained waterfowl areas note that the price of private land has tripled during the same period.
The duck stamp price has been raised only seven times since the program’s inception in 1934.
Ducks Unlimited, the waterfowl conservation organization, supports the “Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act,” co-sponsored by U.S. senators Mark Begich (D-Ala.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Supporters note that money raised by the federal duck stamp is used to purchase and maintain waterfowl habitat and hunting areas across the United States, including Alaska.
“Sportsmen and women have demonstrated their willingness to pay for conservation by supporting a long-overdue increase from $15 to $25,” said Dale Hall, the CEO of DU. “With 98 cents of every $1 from duck stamp receipts going to conserve wetlands habitat, it is vital that the cost of the stamp keep up with inflation and land acquisition costs.”
DU pointed out land values have increased significantly since the last duck stamp price increase. In Minnesota, land has increased from an average price of $400 to $1,400 an acre since 1998 (250-percent jump).
“While the duck stamp price remains stagnant, the cost to conserve land and habitats that host waterfowl and other species has increased dramatically. At its current price, the buying power of the federal duck stamp has never been lower over its 79-year history,” Hall said.
The Congressional Budget Office has ruled that because the duck stamp is a user fee, such a price increase would have no net impact on federal spending.
Delta Waterfowl, another conservation organization, also favors the price hike but said it only makes sense if the money goes toward conservation and securing habitat.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the fee increase would generate $132 million in new revenues and associated spending over the next decade.
Four times since 2008, bills in boost the price of the duck stamp to $25 have been introduced but have died in committee.