As It Happens

Plan to alter much-loved duck stamp creates a huge flap

Traditionally, the duck stamp - used on hunting permits - has depicted waterfowl. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now wants artists to include other birds. That's prompted an outcry from duck stamp artists and hunters.
Adam Grimm is a two-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp competition, most recently in 2013. (Courtesy of Adam Grimm)

How do you ruffle feathers in the American bird-hunting community? Mess with the duck stamp.

 "You would end up getting species-bias from the judges."- Adam Grimm, duck stamp artist

The duck stamp has been around for more than 80 years. Hunters pay $25 for it and stick it on their license. And, each year, a contest is held for the image featured on the stamp — traditionally a duck, a goose or a swan.

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services wants artists to include other birds in the background, like herons or blue jays, in a bid to make the stamps attractive to birders.

Two-time Federal Duck Stamp competition winner Adam Grimm thinks that's ridiculous.

Artist Chris Smith paints at his home studio near Suttons Bay, Michigan. (Tessa Lighty/Traverse City Record-Eagle/AP)

"It opens up a whole can of worms for the artists and the judges," Grimm tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "You would end up getting species-bias from the judges."

Indiana artist Jeffrey Klinefelter's winning design in the annual Nevada Duck Stamp Art Contest. (Nevada Department of Wildlife/The Associated Press)

Aside from the fear that judges might show an undue preference for say, orioles, Grimm also says including other birds on the stamp creates artistic challenges. For instance, if a bird of prey, like a hawk, was in the image, the ducks would then have to be depicted with their heads tipped up, looking nervous, ruining the aesthetic.

He is also skeptical that birders will be interested in buying the stamps, since most of them oppose hunting.

Madison Grimm, 6, works on drawing at her house in Burbank, S.D. in April 2013. Grimm was disqualified as the winner of a national duck stamp competition, after her age sparked discussion about her artistic abilities. She later had her win restored. (Emily Spartz/Argus Leader/AP)

"Why aren't birders buying the duck stamp now?" he asks. "Adding a song bird or some other bird in the background isn't going to make them suddenly jump up and down."

Grimm says the Fish and Wildlife Service should just create a separate set of stamps that would appeal directly to bird-watchers.


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