Newest federal duck stamps now on sale

The 82nd Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is now on sale.

The image of ruddy ducks was revealed June 26 at a special event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bass Pro Shops in Memphis, Tennessee.

The 2015-16 federal duck stamp features a pair of ruddy ducks painted by wildlife artist Jennifer Miller of Olean, New York. Last fall, a panel of five judges chose Miller’s art from among 186 entries in the federal duck stamp art contest.

Miller is the third woman ever to win the contest.

This year’s stamp costs $25, up from $15 last year. This is the first price increase for the stamp in 24 years.

Sales of the duck stamp have raised more than $800 million to protect more than 6 million acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife.

This sales of stamps is largely fueled by waterfowl hunters, who are required to buy a duck stamp each year. Birders and other outdoors enthusiasts, artists and stamp collectors also contribute to conservation by buying the stamps.

Ninety-eight percent of the sale proceeds go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports wetland acquisition and conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A current Federal Duck Stamp is also good for free admission to any refuge that charges an entry fee, including Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge between Olympia and Tacoma.

A pair of wood ducks painted by Andrew Kneeland, 17, of Rock Springs, Wyoming, is depicted on the new Junior Duck Stamp, also on sale.

The junior duck stamp contest culminates a yearlong educational program that helps students learn about wetlands and waterfowl conservation, according to the release.

The winning art is made into a stamp the service sells for $5 to conservationists, educators, students and the public. The proceeds support the agency’s conservation education. Sales of Junior Duck Stamps have raised more than $1 million.

The 2015 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest will be held Sept. 18-19.