WHC issues 33rd ‘duck stamp’ as it looks to reconnect with philatelists

By Jesse Robitaille

Aside from Canada’s sesquicentennial, 2017 marks another special milestone: this year is the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

The act, which was established in 1917 and updated in 1994, protects hundreds of native bird species that migrate between Canada and the U.S. as well as the habitat these populations require. The legislation came on the heels of the Migratory Bird Convention, which was signed in August 1916 by the United Kingdom (representing Canada) and the U.S.


One organization celebrating the centennial of the Migratory Birds Convention Act is Wildlife Habitat Canada (WHC), which recently issued the 33rd stamp of its annual Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation series.

Established in 1984, WHC is a national non-profit and non-governmental charitable organization. Its grant program – founded one year after the organization was created – has invested about $55 million in support of more than 1,500 conservation projects across Canada.

“It varies year to year, but annually the organization funds upwards of 35 conservation activities across the country, whether it’s fixing a wetland; wetland or waterfowl research projects; or promoting environmental stewardship and a connection with nature,” said WHC Executive Director Cameron Mack.


Funding for the WHC’s grant program comes from the sale of the Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation stamp (also known as the “duck stamp”) and other related art products. Like the U.S. federal duck stamp (officially known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation stamp), the Canadian duck stamp was created to raise funds for conservation efforts across Canada.

Since 1985, all hunters have been legally required to purchase a migratory game bird hunting permit, to which the Canadian duck stamp is affixed. The price of the duck stamp is $8.50 (a price that has remained the same since 1991) and is included in the price of the permit.

“The permit is the license to regulate the hunting activity, and the stamp is a part of that,” said Mack, who added it’s “one of the few examples in Canada where funding is collected and earmarked for conservation.”

“With the stamp, the money goes directly to Wildlife Habitat Canada under legislation and is used strictly to support conservation activities.”

Aside from waterfowl hunters validating their permits, the Canadian duck stamp is also purchased by philatelists and individuals interested in contributing to the conservation, restoration and enhancement of Canada’s wildlife habitat.


This year’s stamp features the painting Tranquil Waters – Canada Geese by Canadian wildlife artist Angela Lorenzen. It has been available since April 1 online at whc.org/shop as well as through Rousseau Collections Stamps and Coins in Montréal, Qué.

The different philatelic products include:

The associated fine art products are also available through WHC. They include:

This year, 312,000 of the 2017-dated Canadian duck stamps were printed for use on migratory game bird hunting permits. A total of 3,300 souvenir sheets – philatelic stamps that come in booklet form – were also printed. In 2013, the number of souvenir sheets printed dropped from 35,000 to 10,000. It has continued to drop each year to its current position.

“Those stamps are affixed to the permit, and the others are used for philatelic purposes,” said Mack, who added about 210,000 stamps are used to validate migratory bird hunting permits each year.

The stamps measure 48 mm x 30 mm (horizontal) while the souvenir sheets measure 96 mm x 60 mm (horizontal). They were printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using four-colour lithography. The fine art prints were also printed by Lowe-Martin.


While WHC typically hosts an art competition to determine what image will grace its annual duck stamp, the organizations has commissioned artwork for some of its previous issues.

“For the most part, we’ve done it by competition,” said Mack. “There’s a panel that’s brought together every year to look at these entires. One of the key elements is looking at the quality of the art image, but it also has to make a good stamp.”


Mack said the organization wants to deepen its connection with the philatelic community.

“Since the beginning, the stamp has been a really important part of Wildlife Habitat Canada’s brand, and there has been a lot of interest over the years from people who are collecting the limited-edition prints, and the stamp is also included in that.”

The stamp’s original purpose – to fund conservation efforts across Canada – is the message WHC has been sharing with hunters since 1985.

Mack added the organization is “also appealing to stamp collectors who have a conservation bent.”

“Anyone who buys the stamps – whether it be for philatelic purposes, or as a hunter, or if they’re a birder who wants to contribute – all that money is going to Wildlife Habitat Canada, so it’s going to conservation work.


The stated objectives of the WHC are:

  • to provide a funding mechanism for wildlife conservation programs in Canada;
  • to conserve, restore and enhance wildlife habitat in order to retain diversity, distribution and abundance of wildlife;
  • to foster coordination and leadership in the conservation community across Canada; and
  • to promote the conservation contributions of waterfowl hunters and encourage waterfowl hunting participation.

In addition to its grant program, WHC has also produced several publications, including the 2001 Status of Wildlife Habitats in Canada, which identified habitat conditions and issues as well as habitat information gaps and monitoring and research needs.

For more information or to purchase the Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation stamp, visit whc.org.

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