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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Removes Hunting Theme Mandate for Annual Duck Stamp Art Contest

Duck Stamp Contest
Star Tribune via Getty Images / Contributor

A hunting theme will no longer be required for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's duck stamp contest.

Hunting elements will no longer be required be required for art entries into the annual Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Contest starting in 2022.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the change in a press release on their website. During the Trump administration, the contest changed slightly to a "celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage" theme. The contest mandated entries into the popular art contest must contain a hunting element of some sort. It was also mandated that judges consider these elements when evaluating an entry. The hunting element could be a hunting dog, decoys, blinds, boats, or hunters. The 2020 winner featured a lesser scaup sitting in the water next to some lost duck calls.

"These revisions provide artists more flexibility when designing their art and broaden the appeal of the duck stamp to a more diverse audience," the press release states.

Funds from stamp sales are put back into maintaining wetland habitat across the country in the National Wildlife Refuge system. While the stamps help with improving things for waterfowl, they also help protect the many other types of wildlife that live in these areas. While the primary buyers of these $25 stamps are hunters, the USFWS said in the release that some people were not happy with the addition of the mandatory hunting theme to the contest, which was added in 2020.

"Since the implementation of the 2020 final regulations, which made the hunting theme a permanent requirement, many stakeholders and artists have continued to express their dissatisfaction with this element being mandatory for all entries," the press release states.

For the 2021 contest the requirement for a hunting element in all entries will remain. The change will not happen until the 2022 contest. After that, their inclusion in any entries will become optional.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Removes Hunting Theme Mandate for Annual Duck Stamp Art Contest