Earlier this year, after months of discussion on the state of upland birds and conservation in this country we released an article titled “It’s Time for the Federal Upland Stamp.” The week we published coincided with Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) biannual meeting in Omaha sponsored by the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) — often referred to as “The North American” by biologists and wildlife professionals, not known by many others including hunters.
The North American got its start in 1936, but credits Jay N. “Ding” Darling, founder of the duck stamp, with the vision for the national conference as an annual forum for scientists, managers, educators, administrators, and non-governmental conservation interests. Although it is a business meeting, it is also a meeting for and about the organizations and individuals who shoulder the stewardship of conservation in our country. As upland hunters who wished to make upland conservation a priority, it seemed fitting to suggest the idea for a federal upland stamp at the 100th Anniversary of a conference proposed by the founder of the federal duck stamp.
Though there are numerous conservation organization reps in attendance, the conference is primarily biologists, state and federal agency employees, the policy makers and shakers for wildlife and wild places. Hunters are not the focus here. Upland Bird hunters are even a smaller slice, especially ones from the “media.” Truth is, there was very little media at all in attendance, which we found shocking considering the depth of decision and policy being discussed and shaped at the event.
We were asked to speak about the upland stamp at the Resident Game Bird Working Group meeting which is attended by numerous state wildlife officials and members of most of the national upland conservation organizations. If there is one group in the entire country where this idea could credibly be germinated and developed, it would need to come through these members.
Honestly, our presentation to a group of upland bird biologists hit them cold. There were more questions and a general awkwardness in the room than support for the idea of a federal upland stamp. But there were glimmers of hope, private conversations with scientists who had seen the same data we researched to reach the idea for a federal upland stamp. Directors and assistant directors of state departments expressed intrigue. We left WMI with hope that the rest of the conservation establishment would join the discussion.
In July, under the leadership and vision of Director Don McKenzie, the Federal Upland Stamp received public backing of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and their entire board comprised of conservationists and biologists. See McKenzie’s insights in his Ammoland op-ed.
View the entire letter recommending the upland stamp to the AFWA’s recently assembled Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, below:
Last week in New Jersey the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) held its annual meeting where McKenzie presented the stamp for discussion. Months after the idea appeared too big for serious discussion, it continues to gain momentum as the best national funding opportunity to address the glaring shortfalls in wildlife conservation for upland game birds.
Backers are no longer just forward thinking hunters. Join the conversation and become a part of conservation history.