WHC unveils 2021 ‘duck stamp’

Wildlife Habitat Canada (WHC) has chosen its 2021 art competition winner, Ric Sluiter, whose painting will be featured on this year’s conservation stamp (also known as the “duck stamp”).

Sluiter, of Pigeon Lake, Ont. (about 25 kilometres north of Peterborough), was one of more than two dozen participants in this year’s competition. His painting, On Golden Pond – Common Goldeneye, features the common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), which he frequently sees from his home.

“I sit for hours watching these playful little guys take turns diving and frolicking in their close-knit communities,” said Sluiter, who worked at Ottawa’s Atkinson Film Arts before moving to Toronto’s Animation House and then Walt Disney Animation Studios in Florida.

After working in the animation industry for nearly four decades – a successful stint that saw him serve as the art director on Roger Rabbit, Mulan and Lilo and Stitch – Sluiter turned to “his true passion,” painting wildlife, which he now pursues full time.

“I am continuously amazed at nature’s confounding wisdom: a dragonfly can seemingly disappear and reappear 20 feet away in a blink of an eye, an osprey can time and articulate a dive to catch a fish or a 700-pound grizzly can tear across the tundra at 56 km/h,” he said, adding, “Nature provides unlimited inspiration.”

Sluiter, a Toronto-born painter, worked as a professional animator for almost 40 years before moving to Pigeon Lake, Ont., where he now paints wildlife full time.

WILDLIFE HABITAT CANADA

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 $60 million in support of more than 1,500 Canadian conservation projects. Funding for the grant program comes from duck stamp sales plus other related art products, including limited-edition lithographic prints. 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).

“The permit is the license – or dare I say the tax – on the people to regulate the activity, and the stamp is a part of that,” WHC Executive Director Cameron Mack told CSN in 2017, adding it’s “one of the few activities 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 for conservation activities.”

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

Each year, Wildlife Habitat Canada offers its duck stamp alongside related art products, including limited-edition prints (2021 shown), medallions, lapel pins and more.

“For the most part, we’ve done it by competition,” Mack said in 2017. “There’s a panel that’s brought together every year to look at these entries. One of the key elements is looking at the quality of the art image, but it also has to make a good stamp.”

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.

“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,” Mack said, adding the annual issue appeals “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.

WHC’s stated objectives include:

  • providing a funding mechanism for wildlife conservation programs in Canada;
  • conserving, restoring and enhancing wildlife habitat in order to retain diversity, distribution and abundance of wildlife;
  • fostering co-ordination and leadership in the conservation community across Canada; and
  • promoting 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.

Earlier this spring, collectors Clayton Rubec, of Ottawa, and Dale Stover, of Illinois, published an update to their 2015 Catalogue of Canadian Hunting and Fishing Revenue Stamps.

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