It took a few years and an act of Congress, but today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced rural subsistence hunters don’t need to purchase federal duck stamps.
Myron Naneng, head of the Association of Village Council Presidents, says many thought this was included in the Migratory Bird Treaty in the 1990s, which allowed spring and summer subsistence hunts.
“We assumed that Alaska Natives would have duck stamp exemptions with the acceptance of the treaty, but at that time a solicitor who lived here in Anchorage said that’s not included,” Naneng said.
For years, it was unclear whether village hunters had to buy the $15 annual duck stamps. Changing the law was a big priority for Alaska Native advocates, and for Alaska Congressman Don Young. Young heralded the announcement of the new federal enforcement rules with a video-taped statement and his own duck call.
Young called it a major victory for rural Alaska.
“Remember we had this problem before of who had a stamp, who didn’t have a stamp,” Young said. “This solves the problem, so I’m real pleased with Fish and Wildlife, and I’m pleased with being able to pass this through the Congress.”
The new rule exempts rural hunters who are permanent residents of subsistence harvest areas from buying the stamp, though they must still comply with other state and federal hunting laws. A new federal law raises the duck stamp fee to $25.