As our appreciation of migratory birds
and our understanding of their role in the
natural world grows, it’s important to
recognize the critical contributions of
sportsmen to migratory bird conservation
efforts. For more than 60 years, hunters
have provided a steady stream of revenue
to build the National Wildlife Refuge
System, and to restore waterfowl habitat
on millions of acres of public and private
lands across the country. These habitat
projects also benefit migratory songbirds
and other wildlife.
In the early 1930s, the accumulated
impacts of plundered forests, heedlessly
plowed grasslands, and commercial
exploitation of wildlife from the turn of the
century were brought sharply into focus
by the worst drought and the worst
economic depression in America’s history.
People realized something needed to be
done. With a handful of farsighted
conservationists leading the way,
organized sportsmen were instrumental in
the creation of two programs that changed
the course of wildlife conservation.
The Duck Stamp Program
On March 16, 1934, Congress passed and
President Roosevelt signed the
Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act.
Popularly known as the Duck Stamp Act,
it required all waterfowl hunters 16 years
or older to buy a Migratory Bird Hunting
and Conservation Stamp annually.
In the years since its enactment, the
Federal Duck Stamp Program has
generated more than $501 million that has
been used to preserve nearly five million
acres of waterfowl habitat in the United
States. Many of the more than 500
national wildlife refuges have been paid
for all or in part by Duck Stamp money.
Waterfowl are not the only wildlife to
benefit from Federal Duck Stamps.
Numerous other birds, wildlife and plants
have similarly prospered because of
habitat protection made possible by the
program. Further, an estimated one third
of the nation’s endangered and
threatened species find food or shelter in
refuges preserved by Duck Stamp funds.
Outdoor enthusiasts have gained places
to hike, bird watch or merely visit.
Moreover, the protected w