For actors it’s the Oscar, for musicians it’s the Grammy, but for wildlife artists it is the federal Duck Stamp Contest. The US Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 10 once again chose a winner for a competition where artists each year frantically paint ducks, geese and swans for the sole hope of gracing a stamp.
Signed into law by president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934 as a way to fund wetland conservation, the Duck Stamp is a federally issued $25 sticker that sportsmen are required to paste onto their hunting licenses if they wish to shoot waterfowl. Since 1949 the Fish and Wildlife Service has held a contest for anyone over 18 to design the next year’s Duck Stamp. Some 200 people, enthusiasts of art, birds, conservation and hunting, enter the contest, attempting to paint the perfect duck (or goose). A panel of five art, waterfowl and stamp authorities evaluate each 7″ by 10″ entry based on the accuracy of the bird, its habitat and composition and whether it’s suitable to be shrunken into a 1.75″x 1.5″ stamp.
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