H.R. 3117: Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2011

H.R. 3117

Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2011

January 23, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Monday, January 23, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider, H.R. 3117, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-third majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on October 6, 2011, by Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA) and referred to the committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by unanimous consent on November 17, 2011.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3117 would authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to permanently allow states to provide federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamps (referred to as federal duck stamps) electronically. The electronic stamps would remain valid for up to 45 days to allow for the physical stamps to arrive in the mail. A pilot program that authorized states to issue electronic stamps expired last year, although the USFWS has continued the program under other authorities.

Under H.R. 3117, state applications to participate in the electronic program would be required to describe the format of the duck stamp, the fees that will be charged, the process for accounting and providing funds to the Department of Interior (DOI), the transmission of customer data, the process for delivering a stamp and procedures for issuing duplicate stamps. The bill would authorize the DOI to terminate participation by a state if terms of the application are violated and notice is given 30 days prior to the termination.

H.R. 3117 would specify that electronic duck stamps must have the same format as other licenses issued by the state, and would require the relevant state agency to specify the identifying features of a license-holder so law enforcement can verify the holder's identity. The electronic stamp would bestow the same privileges as an actual duck stamp, would be recognized nationally, and would authorize hunting in other states.


Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps,” are pictorial stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. They are not valid for postage, however they are necessary in order to hunt waterfowl. Originally created in 1934 as the federal licenses required for hunting migratory waterfowl, revenue from Federal Duck Stamps is used to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In general, hunters are required to purchase both a federal duck stamp and a state stamp in order to legally hunt waterfowl.  The current price of a federal duck stamp is $15. 

In 2006, the Electronic Duck Stamp Act was enacted (P.L. 109-266) and directed the Secretary of Interior to conduct a new, three-year pilot program under which eight states authorized by the Secretary were allowed to issue electronic duck stamps. According to the DOI, through the program, more than 600,000 electronic duck stamps were sold, accounting for 27 percent of all sales.


According to CBO, the net effects of H.R. 3117 would be insignificant for each year because the legislation would not have a significant impact on the number of federal duck stamps purchased.