Stamp out the divide
The condescending attitude towards sportsmen surfaces at birding events and in online forums. I heard it recently at The Call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Celebration in Brinkley, Ark.
At the end of Project Director Ron Rohrbaugh's discussion of the Cornell search's use of autonomous recording units and the woodpecker's kent call, he answered questions. A woman asked if the search area would be closed to hunters, because shotgun blasts could scare away the birds. Rohrbaugh quickly and politely said there's no need to do so.
That point received reinforcement at the end of videographer David Luneau's presentation. He closed his remarks by pointing out the duckhunting community's role in the conservation and search-and-recovery efforts. (Luneau later added that he does not hunt ducks.)
Since 1934, sportsmen have purchased an annual Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp to legally hunt migratory waterfowl. That's a lot of years of Duck Stamp sales. In fact, that translates into more than $700 million, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
From each dollar used to purchase a stamp, 98 cents goes to the purchase or lease of wetland habitat within the National Wildlife Refuge System. That means more than 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat have been protected within national refuges.
Myriad bird species and other wildlife live within those 5.2 million acres. Those animals likely wouldn't be protected within that land if not for the Duck Stamp.
Birders obviously have benefited from Duck Stamp revenue. That money has created or contributed to popular birding sites in Florida (Ding Darling NWR), Texas (Santa Ana NWR), New Mexico (Bosque del Apache NWR) and California (Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR).
Given those facts about habitat and species conservation, why don't more birders purchase the $15 Duck Stamps via www.duckstamp.com or a local post office? Will they celebrate International Migratory Bird Day on May 13 by buying a Duck Stamp? When will more birders participate in this efficient conservation tool and purchase as many stamps as hunters do each year?
This column appears as the Editor's Note in the May/June issue of WildBird, which is now available.