Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Alexander Olson (Director), Kate Brown, and Collin Hobbs

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The American Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, is a form of licensure issued by the Federal Government for waterfowl hunters. Why do physical stamps act as licensure to hunt waterfowl on both public and private land in the United States? How did the stamp become the key that grants access to resources that supposedly should be owned by the public? The duck stamp has been well-documented in conservation communities as a resource which has made significant positive impacts on the environment. The increase of anti-hunting sentiments in our society combined with fewer hunters per capita may result in decreased stamp sales, placing the conservation efforts funded by hunting and fishing licenses in jeopardy. This thesis is an effort to explain the importance of the history of hunting, as it relates to conservation efforts and public land. It will describe how the American Refuge System has been sustained by the funding from the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. It will give a comprehensive history of how the duck stamp came into being as well as its historical ecological impact. It also raises questions regarding the current state of the duck stamp and its conservation efforts. In conclusion, the duck stamp has indeed been a historical success story, however its continued success as a form of conservation in the 21st century is another question. Additionally, the importance of public land and conservation will be highlighted.


Environmental Law | Legal | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | United States History