Louisiana waterfowl hunters are familiar with the "duck stamp" — the moniker for the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp issued yearly by the U.S. Postal Service for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Duck stamps were created in 1934 as licenses for hunting all migratory birds (not just ducks), and proceeds from their sale go to leasing and purchasing land for federal wildlife refuges.
The Delta Wildlife Refuge near Venice, La., was one of the first, established in 1935, followed two years later by the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge along the Intracoastal Waterway in Cameron and Evangeline parishes. Since then, sales of duck stamps have raised enough money for the government to buy and protect more than 5 million acres of American wetlands. The first duck stamp cost $1; today it's $15, and the stamps have become popular among philatelists and collectors of wildlife art as well as hunters.
On July 27, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled a 2010 duck stamp "cachet" (a collectible envelope with stamp) at a special price of $25 — $10 of which will go directly to Gulf conservation efforts. "When the Dust Bowl of the 1930s destroyed many wetlands, our nation's sportsmen lobbied Congress to support the creation of the duck stamp for wetland acquisition and conservation," Salazar says. "Today, the wildlife of the Gulf Coast faces new threats — from the current oil spill to disappearing wetlands — that we must rise to confront."
Hunters and collectors can buy the 2010 special-edition cachet by calling (800) 852-4897 or ordering directly from www.duckstamp.com. — Kevin Allman