Wildlife artist Richard Clifton of Milford, Delaware, recently won the 2006 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest -- the oldest and most prestigious wildlife art competition in America -- in Memphis, Tennessee with his depiction of a pair of swimming ring-necked ducks.
"Richard Clifton's persistence has paid off not only for him but also for wetlands conservation," said H. Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Richard's home state of Delaware may be small in size but it is on the world stage for wetlands conservation. It's not only home to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge but also to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a wetland of international importance."
Clifton's painting, chosen from among 297 entries representing 49 states, will grace the 2007-08 Federal Duck Stamp, which goes on sale in late June 2007. The sale of Federal Duck Stamps raises approximately $25 million each year to fund wetland habitat acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is sponsored annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The competition, co-hosted by Ducks Unlimited, Greater Memphis Arts Council, and the Memphis College of Art, was surrounded by a week of public events at the Memphis College of Art. The announcement of the winning artwork also launches National Wildlife Refuge Week (Oct. 8-14).
"Ducks Unlimited has a long relationship with the Federal Duck Stamp program," said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. "Once again, the competition has been an extraordinary success, and we look forward to working with the Fish and Wildlife Service on sustaining our shared objective of familiarizing the American public with conservation initiatives through outdoor art."
All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry the current Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, but conservationists, stamp collectors and others can also purchase the stamp in support of habitat conservation. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from the $15 Duck Stamp go into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which purchases wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Clifton has entered the Federal Duck Stamp competition numerous times over the years.
"I don't know how many times I've entered," said Clifton. "But at this point it was starting to add up. After a while it's just is a big relief to win. I'm just tickled to death."
Clifton's winning acrylic is a close-up of a swimming male and female ring-necked duck. He is a self-taught wildlife artist from Milford, Delaware. Clifton's work has graced many wildlife stamps, but this is his first win of the Federal Duck Stamp Competition.
Second place went to Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minnesota, who painted a pair of flying wood ducks. Third place went to Ed Yanok of North Canton, Ohio, who painted a pair of swimming cinnamon teal.
Eligible species for this year's contest were the wood duck, gadwall, cinnamon teal, ring-necked duck and American wigeon.
The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is the nation's only federally sponsored art competition. No cash prize is awarded, but winning can boost the professional reputation of even a previously unknown wildlife artist. Winning artists stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of limited editions of prints of their Duck Stamp designs.
There are more than 545 National Wildlife Refuges spread across all 50 states and U.S. territories. A current Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp can be used for free admission to any refuge open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography. Duck Stamp dollars have been used to acquire land at hundreds of refuges in nearly every state in the nation.
Duck Stamps bearing this year's winning design will go on sale at post offices, national wildlife refuges, some national retail chain stores, and various sporting-goods stores nationwide in late June, 2007. The 2007-2008 Duck Stamp will be available at select locations in both a self-adhesive format and the traditional gummed format.
The five judges for the competition were chosen by the Secretary of the Interior for their dedication to conservation and their professional expertise. They are:
Harvey Nelson of Bloomington, Minnesota, is a retired biologist with 42 years experience in waterfowl conservation with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
John Maclean, is an author and journalist with 30 years experience with the Chicago Tribune. He is an avid fly-fisherman and outdoorsman, and divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Sealy Lake, Montana.
Barbara Higgins Bond is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee, whose work has graced three U.S. postal stamps and more than 20 books.
Janet Klug from Pleasant Plain, Ohio, is a stamp expert and president of the American Philatelic Society, the world's largest nonprofit membership organization for stamp collectors.
Dr. Bruce Batt, of Memphis, Tennessee, is Ducks Unlimited's Chief Biologist. He oversees Ducks Unlimited's Mexico and Latin American waterfowl conservation programs and is the biological liaison for their Canada programs.
Downloadable images of the top three paintings are available on the Internet at http://duckstamps.fws.gov.
For more information, contact Joshua Winchell at 202-744-8301.