Last night, the U.S. House passed the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act, authored by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rob Wittman (R-VA), on a bipartisan vote of 401-0. This legislation aims to make federal duck stamps permanently available for purchase online.
"For decades, the sale of duck stamps has generated critical funding for habitat protection and wildlife conservation," said Rep. Kind. "Making duck stamps available for purchase online means greater convenience and accessibility for hunters, collectors and outdoor enthusiasts, and more revenue for the important conservation efforts that duck stamps support."
This modernization of the program would allow sportsmen across the country to more easily obtain a federal duck stamp, rather than requiring an in-person visit to a local post office. Sale and distribution of federal duck stamps fund conservation of vital waterfowl habitat across the country.
For 79 years, millions of Americans have strongly supported the Federal Duck Stamp Program. Each year, hunters, bird watchers, stamp collectors and wildlife enthusiasts have traveled to their local post offices, National Wildlife Refuges and sporting goods stores to obtain their annual stamp. Since 1934, more than 120 million federal duck stamps have been sold nationwide. With the sale of these stamps, more than $800 million has been collected and deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. These monies have been used to purchase or lease over 5.3 million acres of vital wetlands and essential waterfowl habitat that have been incorporated within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Unlike many states, however, which allow consumers to obtain their annual fishing and hunting licenses online, there was no authority to purchase a federal duck stamp online. With the passage of Rep. Kind's Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2005, the Federal Duck Stamp Program took a technological step forward. This law established a three-year pilot program to allow individuals to purchase their stamps online, and the Fish and Wildlife Service was directed to evaluate the effectiveness of this new electronic program.
This legislation would make the online purchase of federal duck stamps a permanent feature of federal law. Just like the pilot program, the electronic proof of purchase will both fulfill the requirements for waterfowl hunters to possess the stamp and allow visitors free access to our nation's 553 national wildlife refuges. After 45 days, the proof of purchase will expire and the purchasers must possess the traditional paper stamp to receive its full benefit.
The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act is supported by conservation organizations, including Ducks Unlimited and the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.