Federal  Duck Stamp Contest Kicks Off
November 4 with a "Quack".

A quintet of marching mallards will once again officially open the judging of the Nation's only Federally sponsored art competition when the Federal Duck  Stamp Art Contest gets under way November 4 in Washington, DC.

The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sponsors the Duck Stamp  Contest each year to select the new Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp. The design chosen from among the 337 entries in this year's contest will become the 1999-2000 Federal Duck  Stamp, which goes on sale July 1, 1999.

The judging of this year's contest kicks off Wednesday, November 4, at 10:30 a.m. with the march of the Peabody Orlando Hotel ducks, four hens and a drake that will circle the Interior Department auditorium led by a uniformed  "duckmaster." Then the public will have a chance to view the acrylic, oil, and watercolor entries while the panel of judges, including "The World of Ducks Unlimited" host Jameson Parker, ranks them.

The winner of  the Duck Stamp Contest will be announced Thursday, November 5, at around  12:30 p.m. All contest events take place in the Interior Department auditorium at 18th and C Streets, NW., in Washington, DC, and are free and open to the public.

"The Duck Stamp  Art Contest is great fun," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark, "but it also focuses attention on one of our Nation's most succesful conservation efforts, and one of the easiest to participate  in."

"This year,  migratory bird conservation is one of the Service's four major  priorities," Clark noted. "I think that simply purchasing this conservation stamp is one of the best and most effective gestures of support for our wild creatures and wild places anyone can make."

"I'm looking forward to seeing this year's entries and to once again welcoming our  friends from the Peabody Hotel, with whom we have forged a most successful partnership to promote the Duck Stamp as a conservation tool," she said.

Federal Duck Stamps, which cost $15, are a required purchase for waterfowl hunters ages 16 and older. However, stamp collectors, art lovers, and conservationists also purchase them to add to their albums or enjoy as miniature works of art, or simply as a way to contribute to waterfowl conservation. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from Duck Stamp sales goes toward purchasing wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Peabody  Ducks: A Talented Bunch

Returning to Washington, DC, for an encore performance, the Peabody Hotel marching ducks will open the contest once again this year with a chorus of  resounding "quacks" as they parade through the Main Interior Building's  auditorium to the sounds of their own theme music.

The famous mallards appear at the Duck Stamp Contest thanks to a unique partnership  between the Service and the Peabody Hotel Orlando, which incorporates the Federal Duck Stamp into its efforts to raise awareness about waterfowl and  deliver conservation messages to guests and the community. Visitors to the renowned Florida hotel can purchase a Duck Stamp after they watch the  mallards frolic in the lobby fountain.

The Peabody  Orlando and its sister hotel, the Peabody Memphis, are both world-famous for their fountain-dwelling, farm-raised mallards and duck-themed decor. Beginning with a prank in the 1930s, when the manager of Peabody Memphis  and his hunting partner placed their live duck decoys in the fountain, the  hotels' waterfowl theme now extends to duck-shaped soaps, butter pats, and stationery, as well as eateries named "Dux" and "Quackers."

The Judges: A  Diverse Panel of Wildlife Enthusiasts

The judges for this year's Duck Stamp contest engage in a variety of wildlife-related pursuits such as outdoor writing, environmental education, wildlife  carving, and taxidermy. One of this year's judges is Jameson Parker, host of The Nashville Network's weekly series, "The World of Ducks Unlimited."

Parker, a  collector of wildlife art and outdoor literature, is also known for his roles in such television series as "Simon and Simon," "One Life to Live,"  and "Somerset," as well as in other television and film  productions.

About the  Contest

The winner of  the Federal Duck Stamp Contest receives no cash award from the Federal  Government; however, the contest is highly competitive because winning  boosts the reputation of even a previously unknown artist to the top of  his or her profession. And winning artists stand to make hundreds of  thousands of dollars from the sale of limited edition prints of their Duck  Stamp design.

Eligible species for this year's contest were the green-winged teal, black duck,  greater scaup, northern pintail, and ruddy duck.

This year, the 337 design entries will be displayed for viewing and judging at the  Interior Department auditorium, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC, at the  following times: Tuesday, Nov. 3: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Viewing Wednesday, Nov. 4: 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Viewing/Judging Thursday, Nov. 5: 9 a.m. - 2  p.m. Viewing/Judging*

*The winner  will be announced at approximately 12:30 p.m.

In addition, Duck Stamp licensed products, including posters, T- shirts, mugs,  calendars, caps, and other items featuring Duck Stamp designs will be  available for sale in the Interior Department lobby. Part of the proceeds  from the sale of these products also are used for wetlands  acquisition.

The U.S. Fish  and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for  conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special  management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78  ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife  laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments  with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program  that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.