Electronic Duck Stamps

Summary

Similar to hunting and fishing licenses, many states now allow hunters to purchase Duck Stamps electronically. However, policies regarding the issuance of these stamps varies from state to state, and even in many states where the electronic sale of Duck Stamps is authorized it is still required that hunters print out and retain a physical copy of E-Stamp certificate while afield as they await the arrival of their physical stamp in the mail.

Introduction

In addition to state hunting licenses, waterfowl hunters above the age of 16 are required to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp, and 98% of the revenue from the sales of Duck Stamps goes towards conserving waterfowl habitat. Hunters are required to carry a signed Federal Duck Stamp with them while hunting waterfowl, and traditionally, this would be in the form of a physical stamp. However, thanks to technology, hunters now have the means to carry licenses and stamps digitally on their smartphones. “E-Stamps” are available for purchase in 28 states currently. Once purchased, hunters immediately receive an E-Stamp receipt that is valid for 45 days. After the expiration of the receipt, the physical Duck Stamp must be signed and physically carried by the hunter. Allowing Duck Stamps to be purchased electronically removes a burden for those who wish to hunt waterfowl by improving accessibility to the Federal Duck Stamp.

 

Background

The Duck Stamp was created with the passage of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act in 1934. Ninety-eight cents of every Duck Stamp dollar goes directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which is used to purchase and restore waterfowl habitat benefitting hunters, wildlife, and other outdoor enthusiasts, with the remainder covering administrative costs. Although Duck Stamps are required for waterfowl hunters, there is no requirement for other customers to purchase these stamps. However, individuals, such as stamp collectors, will also purchase them which further contributes to conservation efforts. Since 1934, more than 6 million acres have been purchased using revenue from Duck Stamps, which has facilitated the creation of over 300 National Wildlife Refuges, many of which provide access for hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts across the country.

Points of Interest

  • A current, federal E-Stamp is good in any state you hunt, so you are not required to buy additional Federal Duck Stamps for multiple states.
  • All states already have online systems that allow hunting and fishing licenses to be purchased electronically and many allow licenses to be displayed digitally.
  • Allowing individuals to purchase E-Stamps on demand increases access by minimizing the amount of time hunters must wait to receive a physical stamp before they can waterfowl hunt.

 

Language

  • Minnesota: “Persons hunting waterfowl on commercial shooting preserves are required to have both a federal and a state duck stamp validation in addition to a small game license…The electronic validation for the federal stamp is valid up to 45 until the customer receives the pictorial stamp by mail, when it must be signed and kept in possession…”
  • Mississippi: “When you buy an E-Stamp, you will receive an E-Stamp certificate. This certificate is unique to the purchaser and is valid as a Federal Duck Stamp across the nation for up to 45 days from the date of purchase. Within that time, a physical Duck Stamp will be mailed to you. Your E-stamp certificate may be printed out or downloaded onto your mobile device and must be carried on your person while hunting waterfowl.”

Moving Forward

Technology has advanced significantly since the creation of the Duck Stamp. Like online hunting and fishing licenses, all states are encouraged to sell Federal “E-Stamps”. Allowing hunters to purchase stamps electronically improves access to the stamps and facilitates an easier pathway afield for sportsmen and women.

Policymakers are further encouraged to pursue changes at the federal level that would give hunters the option to purchase an electronic Duck Stamp that is valid for the full year (July 1 through the following June 30) rather than the current 45 days pending the receipt of a physical year-long stamp. While many people enjoy the aesthetics of a physical Duck Stamp, having an E-Stamp-only purchasing option would help protect and advance conservation funding and the cherished waterfowl hunting traditions that millions of sportsmen and women enjoy each year.

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