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Duck and goose hunters have paid $15 for a federal “duck stamp” since 1991.

Federal stamp purchases have funded the acquisition of more than 6 million acres of wetland since the program started in 1934. During the more than two decades since the last cost increase, land values have risen to about 250 percent per acre of wetlands suitable for waterfowl habitat.

Studies show that 98 percent of each duck stamp dollar goes to wetland habitat, but conservation needs are suffering at the current stamp price. On Dec. 20, U.S. Sens. Mark Begich, Max Baucus, Chris Coons and Jon Tester introduced a bill to raise the stamp price from $15 to $25.

Hours after the bill was announced, online comments included the terse entry: “Just price the poor man out of hunting.” Yet, sportsmen and women with club affiliation and individually realize the current price is at its lowest value, about 40 percent below 1991 costs while land values in many places have tripled.

During the 79 years that funds from stamp sales have been gathered to support federal waterfowl programs, hunters and wildlife watchers have backed the seven price increases needed during critical times.

The $10 increase falls below the cost of a box of high-brass, non-toxic duck or goose shotgun loads; hunters spend more than $10 to drive to and from a federal preserve open to waterfowl hunting; any accessory (gloves, calls, hats, decoys, etc.) exceeds the price of the stamp increase.

“It is vital that the cost of the stamp keep up with inflation and land acquisition costs,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall.

To review DU programs and for more details on this legislation to raise the stamp fee, go to ducks.org.

email: odrswill@gmail.com