In the coming weeks when thousands of North Dakota hunters will go through the annual ritual of buying a federal duck stamp, most people will notice a change or two.

One of those changes is a price increase from $15 to $25 passed by Congress and signed into law late last year. It was the first duck stamp price increase since 1991. Unlike a lot of price increases, this one was widely supported by waterfowl hunters and conservation groups across the country, as duck stamp revenues are invested directly into programs that preserve wetland and waterfowl habitat.

Federal Duck StampThe other change won't affect everyone, but it might influence where a hunter buys his or her stamp.

This year, for the first time in North Dakota, the duck stamp is available through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at Game and Fish licensing manager Randy Meissner says the electronic or "e-stamp" is a purchase item like any other hunting or fishing license bought online, and is valid immediately.

"The words 'Federal Duck Stamp' will be printed on the license certificate, along with an expiration date 45 days from the date of purchase," Meissner said. "The actual physical stamp will be sent by postal mail."

Meissner said the physical stamp is processed and sent by the official duck stamp vendor in Texas, and should arrive to the individual buyer well before the expiration date printed on the electronic license. The physical stamp, which must be signed to validate as in years past, must remain in possession of the hunter after the 45-day electronic stamp has expired. Individuals who have questions regarding the status of their physical stamp can contact the federal duck stamp vendor customer service number at 800-852-4897.

In addition, license vendors that are registered with the Game and Fish Department's licensing system can sell the electronic duck stamp, as does the department's instant licensing telephone number, 800-406-6409.

All electronic duck stamp purchases through Game and Fish or other electronic vendors will have $1.50 added to cover shipping and handling costs of the actual physical stamp. Stamps can also be ordered online through the USPS website. This lets you buy several stamps at once for collectors and only pay one shipping charge vs. $1.50 for each individual stamp. After accessing the USPS web site, you need to search on "federal duck stamp" to be taken to the right place for ordering stamps online.

Of course, many post offices will still have the actual duck stamp for sale, but large retail license vendors that may have had duck stamps in past years will not have the paper version this year. In smaller communities, it might be a good idea to call ahead to the post office to make sure they have duck stamps before you make a special trip.

Federal duck stamps are required of all hunters age 16 and older to hunt waterfowl, including ducks, geese and swans. For early-goose-season hunters in North Dakota, however, the duck stamp is not required until Sept. 1.

The federal duck stamp was authorized by Congress in 1934. Since then, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it has raised around $800 million and has protected more than 6.5 million acres of habitat.

The additional $10 generated from each stamp sale this year and beyond is dedicated to working with willing landowners to acquire conservation easements, allowing important habitat to be protected for future generations, while allowing owners to retain property rights and to live on and use their land.

For more information on duck stamps, check out the Fish and Wildlife Service website at