Duck stamp devotees are going to face “sticker shock” next year.
That’s because Congress has finally agreed to a big price increase for the federal government’s migratory bird hunting and conservation stamps.
The stamps, required by duck hunters and popular with stamp collectors, will increase by a whopping $10 next year — to $25.
The stamps have remained priced at $15 since 1991.
The legislation, signed by President Barack Obama on December 19 ended eight years of efforts by conservationists to convince lawmakers that the increases were not actually taxes, but user fees, one key proponent of the change told Linn’s.
But even Paul Schmidt, chief conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited in Memphis, Tenn., one of the big supporters of the increase, conceded that purchases of the stamp are likely to fall next year because of “a little bit of sticker shock” over the increase.
Rita Dumaine of Sam Houston Duck Co., a major duck stamp dealer, says she wishes the price “had been stepped up over the years” perhaps to $17.50, then to $20.
“The $10 jump is quite a bit at once,” she said.
Getting the increase approved by a Congress that has been wary of anything that suggests an increased burden on the public was a major victory for conservation groups and the Obama administration.
The Obama administration had been urging an increase in the stamp’s price since taking office in 2008, Schmidt said.
“This is huge news for conservation and duck hunters,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who backed the legislation, in a Dec. 2 news release hailing Senate approval of the increase.
“At a time when millions of acres of wildlife habitat are at risk of being lost forever, congressional approval of this bipartisan legislation is a critical boost for wetlands conservation,” said Dan Ashe, director of the Fish & Wildlife Service, which administers the program.
“By restoring the lost purchasing power of the federal duck stamp program, this legislation will give us the opportunity to work with thousands of additional lawmakers across the nation to maintain vital habitat for waterfowl, grassland birds and hundreds of other native species,” he said after the Senate approved the measure.