After two days of competition, Eddie LeRoy of Eufala, Alabama, emerged as the winner of the Federal Duck Stamp competition with his painting of a black-bellied whistling duck pair. The announcement was made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson at the annual contest, held this year at Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland.
LeRoy’s acrylic painting will be made into the 2020-2021 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or “Duck Stamp”, which will go on sale in late June 2020. The Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises approximately $40 million in sales each year. These funds support critical conservation to protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.
“These artists are extremely talented, and the quality of the art is matched by the incredible conservation work funded by Duck Stamp sales,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “By purchasing a Duck Stamp, waterfowl hunters have helped raise millions of dollars to conserve wildlife and healthy wetland habitats within the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
Eighty-five years after it was established, sales of the Duck Stamp to hunters, bird watchers, outdoor enthusiasts and collectors have raised more than $1 billion to conserve over six million acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife and provide countless opportunities for hunting and recreation on our public lands.
This is LeRoy’s first Federal Duck Stamp Contest win.
“I’m proud to be part of an event with the rich tradition of the Duck Stamp Contest. The first one took place in 1949, and 70 years later, the contest – and the wetland conservation work it supports – is going stronger than ever,” said Everson. “I thank the staff at Patuxent Research Refuge for hosting the contest this year. The opportunity to experience native wildlife, trails, canoeing, fishing and more at this urban oasis demonstrates how you don’t need to go far from a major city to explore a national wildlife refuge.”
In addition to LeRoy, Cory McLaughlin of Wells, Texas, placed second with his oil painting of a black-bellied whistling-duck pair, and Frank Mittelstadt of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, took third place with his acrylic painting of a bufflehead pair.
Of 190 entries in this year’s competition, 13 entries made it to the final round of judging. Eligible species for this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest were the black-bellied whistling-duck, emperor goose, American black duck, bufflehead and northern shoveler. View the online gallery of the 2019 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest entries.
“The Duck Stamp is a beautiful collectible and a great artistic tradition. The design of each year’s stamp has been chosen in this wonderful open art contest. I am proud to be a part of this heritage that also benefits habitat and wildlife,” said Jerome Ford, assistant director for the Service’s Migratory Bird Program.
The judges for this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest were: Walter Matia, artist; Brian K. Schmidt, biologist; David Elwing, conservation partner and philatelist; Wayne Knight, artist; and Peggy Watkins, artist.
Waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry the current Federal Duck Stamp. Many non-hunters, including birdwatchers, conservationists, stamp collectors and others also purchase the stamp in support of habitat conservation. Additionally, a current Federal Duck Stamp can be used for free admission to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee.
Funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the Refuge System. This year, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by Secretary Bernhardt, awarded $19.3 million from the fund, made up partly of Duck Stamp dollars, to support the acquisition of refuge lands from willing sellers. The new areas provide additional access to the public to some of the most spectacular places available for hunting, fishing, birdwatching, hiking and other outdoor activities.
You can contribute to conservation and America’s great outdoors tradition by buying Federal Duck Stamps at many national wildlife refuges, sporting goods stores and other retailers, through the U.S. Postal Service, or online at http://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/buy-duck-stamp.php.
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service