By Senator Pryor
Packing all the gear and waking up before dawn for a duck hunt can be time-consuming, but buying a federal duck stamp should be effortless. Tens of thousands of Arkansans have been enjoying a trial program that allows us to buy duck stamps online. It's quick, easy and convenient. Once purchased online, the temporary stamp is valid immediately. The physical stamp is then mailed to the hunter. Given the popularity of this program in our state, I'm leading an effort to make this program permanent and open to sportsmen in all states.
Back in 1934, Congress and President Roosevelt first established the Federal Duck Stamp as a waterfowl hunting license and a means to support habitat conservation. Since then, this highly successful program has generated more than $800 million, allowing 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat to be protected. For every $15 stamp sold, the federal government uses $14.70 for wetlands acquisition and conservation. Arkansas, the Duck Hunting Capital of the World, has been a major recipient of these dollars. And many of us enjoy duck hunting in the National Wildlife Refuges at Cache River, Bald Knob, Overflow and White River as a result.
President Roosevelt's vision to conserve waterfowl habitats was spot on, and now it's time to modernize the program and expand its success. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and I have teamed up to turn the e-duck stamp pilot program into a permanent program where all states can participate. Currently, hunters in only eight states have been able to purchase duck stamps online for the past four years. Even with this limited access, 364,000 e-stamps were sold in 2010, which accounted for almost one-third of total duck stamp sales. I am optimistic we can move this bipartisan legislation through the Senate swiftly, and that we can restore and expand the convenience of online duck stamps for all hunters.
Duck hunting has been a way of life for me and thousands of Arkansas families. I'm already looking forward to next November, spending early mornings looking for greenheads.