South Dakota Artist Wins 2008 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

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First Place - Artist: Joshua Spies - Species: Long-tailed DuckWildlife artist Joshua Spies of Watertown, South Dakota, has won the 2008 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest — the oldest and most prestigious wildlife art competition in America — with his depiction of a long-tailed duck.  H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announced the winner in front of a crowd of more than 300 people at the contest, held in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“My sincerest congratulations to Joshua Spies on his well-deserved win today for this beautiful piece of artwork,” said Hall.  “Today, we also honor each and every artist throughout the years who has devoted countless hours to his or her contest entry — and … by the way, some have entered the contest as many as 20 times. All of you have helped us put our stamp on conservation.”

Spies’ painting — chosen from among 270 entries from artists across the country — will be featured on the 2009-2010 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2009.  Federal Duck Stamp sales generate about $25 million each year to fund wetland habitat acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The annual Federal Duck Stamp Contest is the only federally sponsored juried art competition, and is run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry a current Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp — commonly known as the Duck Stamp — but conservationists, birders, stamp collectors and others also buy the stamp to support habitat conservation. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from the $15 Duck Stamp go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports wetlands acquisition for the Refuge System.

Second Place - Artist: Jim Hautman - Species: Canada GeeseSince its inception in 1934, sales of the Federal Duck Stamp have raised more than $700 million to acquire and protect more than 5.2 million acres of wetlands, including habitat on hundreds of the 548 national wildlife refuges spread across all 50 states and U.S. territories. A current Duck Stamp can also be used for free admission to any refuge open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography.

Joshua Spies, 35, is a first-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, although he has previously entered the contest. In 2003, he won the South Dakota Duck Stamp.

Dressed in jeans and boots, Spies bounded through the aisles of the Schneider Theatre at the Bloomington Art Center, where the contest was held, and onto the stage to accept congratulations and a blue ribbon from Service Director Hall.

“I purposely didn’t dress up today because I didn’t want to jinx myself,” Spies told the audience. “Last year, I got voted out in the first round [of the contest]. So to all you artists out there, keep pounding.” 

Spies’ winning art depicts a single male long-tailed duck afloat, with a decoy in the background. The last time a long-tailed duck appeared on the Federal Duck Stamp was on the 1967-68 stamp, painted by the late Leslie Kouba of Minnesota.

Third Place - Artist: Gerald Mobley - Species: Northern ShovelerSpies is the third South Dakota artist to win the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. John S. Wilson, also a Watertown resident, won the contest in 1981, and in 2005, Mark Anderson of Sioux Falls took top honors.

Second place in the contest went to Jim Hautman, of Chaska, Minn., who painted an acrylic of a pair of Canada geese. Hautman has previously won the Duck Stamp Contest three times, in 1990, 1995 and 1999. Third place went to Gerald Mobley of Claremore, Oklahoma, who painted a pair of northern shovelers in acrylic. Mobley’s art was featured on the 1985-86 Federal Duck Stamp, and he is a multiple winner of the Oklahoma waterfowl stamp competition.

Eligible species for this year’s contest were brant, Canada goose, ruddy duck, long-tailed duck and northern shoveler.

During the opening ceremony it was noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Small Wetlands Program, created to stem the rapid loss of important small wetland and grassland habitat across the Prairie Pothole Region of the upper Midwest. These prairie wetlands and grassland habitats are known as waterfowl production areas and are purchased using revenues from Federal Duck Stamp sales. In the last half-century, the Small Wetlands Program has developed into one of the most successful landscape-level conservation efforts in the United States, complementing the success of the Duck Stamp.

Although no cash prize is awarded for winning the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, the artist receives worldwide recognition and, because he or she retains the rights to the original art, can profit from the sale of limited edition prints.

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 of 2009. The 2009-2010 Duck Stamp will be available at select locations in both a self-adhesive and the traditional gummed format. In addition, the Service recently started a three-year pilot program allowing the state fish and wildlife agencies of Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, to sell stamps electronically through their individual automated licensing systems, providing a special receipt as proof of purchase.

The five judges for this year?s competition were selected by the Secretary of the Interior for their dedication to conservation and professional expertise. They were:

Richard Slaughter, of Easton, Md., publisher of the nature and conservation-focused Attraction magazine; Steven A. Williams, executive director of the Wildlife Management Institute in Washington, D.C.; Don Soderlund, Jr., a wildlife artist from Wright County, Minn.; Donald T. Luce, an author, zoologist and scientific illustrator; and Wes Miller, vice president of the National Duck Stamp Collectors Society. The alternate judge was Jeff Hedtke, a wetland restoration technician with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and author of articles about waterfowl decoy carvers.

Downloadable images of the top three paintings and additional information about the contest will be available on the Internet at

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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