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Support wildlife areas with stamps

July 16, 2011
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

MIGRATORY BIRDS get a big boost from the income generated from the sale of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp. Even if one does not hunt ducks or geese, the purchase of this stamp is a step worth taking for conservation. Anyone can contribute knowing that the funds will be used for wetland habitat in places where it really matters. Here is another fact: 98 percent of these stamp sales go directly toward the National Wildlife Refuge System.

In 1934, when the federal legislation was enacted, it required all waterfowl hunters age 16 or over to annually purchase this stamp. The first stamp, now a big collectors item, was designed by an Iowan, J.N. "Ding" Darling, a political cartoonist for the Des Moines register. President Franklin Roosevelt had appointed Darling as the head of the Bureau of Biological Survey, the predecessor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling's quick wit and artistic talents allowed him to draw political depictions of then current controversies in terms that everyone could understand. Politicians received a lot of ink primarily for their meddling efforts in the everyday lives of people. When it came to wildlife interests, Ding had a vast knowledge of, he turned his ink pen into a sharp sword to depict natural resources in peril. He did a great job.

Since 1934, more than 500 million dollars has been dedicated toward wildlife areas of national interest. The federal duck stamp, to use its most common name, is one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated. While hunters may be the primary purchasers of the stamp, others need to step up to the plate. Everyone from art collectors, birders and just the everyday outdoor enthusiast should buy this stamp every year. Huge numbers of bird watchers use the National Wildlife Refuges to just watch for critters of all kinds. All of these people are part of the "user should pay" concept to help maintain wildlife areas.

Article Photos

The 2011-12 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp features White-fronted Geese.This stamp affixed to a hunting license, along with other appropriate state license fees, allows the holder to hunt migratory waterfowl this fall and next spring. However, for this author, the larger good is served by his knowing how the money from stamp sales are used. In this case it goes toward long term habitat and wildlife law enforcement efforts. Garry is also holding several of his past years federal duck stamps.

Stamp collectors consider the annual wildlife stamp a miniature work of art. For a collector who may have purchased each annual stamp since 1934, the face value cost is a tad over $400. The collection is worth well over $5,000. Mint condition first edition migratory bird stamps are highly sought after. The trouble is that these items are rare, the exact reason they have great value. Most stamps were used by hunters who attached them to a hunting license and stuck it into the billfold. Over time, all that paper took a beating from normal wear and tear. It is sad to imagine how many of those stamps were thrown away at the end of a season. Isn't hind sight wonderful? So check this out...if grandfather was an avid duck hunter, his memorabilia may contain interesting editions of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Migratory Bird & Conservation Stamp from long ago.


HENDRICKSON MARSH, the 777 plus acre wetland complex at the far southwest corner of Marshall County and southeast Story County, is being prepared for the fall flight of waterfowl and other migratory birds. This summer, the water level of the marsh was lowered as far as possible. Starting later this month, water levels will be slowly raised by DNR wildlife personnel. Exposed soil areas have the moisture and sunlight to germinate aquatic plants. As water levels rise, these plants will get covered. However, in the meantime, food sources such as the plant itself and aquatic invertebrates will thrive. Once fall migrating birds arrive, the banquet table will be well stocked.

Hendrickson had a major draw down of water in December 2006. By the spring of 2007, concentrated remaining waters had brought tons of rough fish to vulnerable positions. The fish were removed by many people and cleanup crews from the DNR. Helicopter application of rotenone finished the fish kill efforts. The marsh today, and its wildlife, is the winners due to scientific based wildlife management efforts. We all owe a big thank you to DNR crews for their hard work.


ROADSIDE SURVEYS for upland game will begin in early August. Using standard 30 mile long routes, each of the 210 survey routes in Iowa will be tallied by biologists or conservation officers. They will be looking for pheasants, quail, partridge, doves, cottontail and jack rabbits. Each standard route has been in use for decades. What changes is land use practices adjacent to the routes. Obviously land uses practiced in the 1950s are a lot different compared to 2011. The resulting data from the surveys helps biologists with trend line information of populations. After all the numbers are in, the survey numbers will be posted on-line.


STRONG STRAIGHT LINE WINDS came last week. It reminds us once again that Mother Nature always has a trump card up her sleeve. When she plays it, look out. In the meantime, people will pull together to clean up, fix up and get back to business. The military saying goes like this: Improvise, adapt and overcome. Even though many forest areas took their share of damages, salvage of the timber will take place. New light into the forest openings will allow small trees to replace the old. In time, the forest will heal.


Tonight is the WILD TURKEY hunting heritage banquet at the American Legion Hall, lower level. Tickets will be available at the door. Make it a point to support this conservation organization by attending and putting money to work for local conservation projects. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and prizes and auction items to follow.


The IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE will hold a general clean up work night on Tuesday, July 19, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Any member, guest or even the general public is welcome to help clear trails and pick up the grounds as a result of damages from the wind storm. Lots of help will make short work of a big mess. Bring gloves, limb saws or chainsaws if you have them. Club officers Ed Moore (751-8381) or Barry Gaarder (750-5603) can be contacted for details. Thanks in advance for your help. Bring lots of water too!


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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