Mottled Duck Species Featured In This Year’s Louisiana Duck Stamp Competition, Won By John Nelson Harris
story by Trey iles, LDWF Public Information
Few places in the world offer the exceptional duck hunting which Louisiana provides. The pursuit of waterfowl in the state is as Louisiana as it can get. But the majority of ducks that hunters here pursue generally migrate from the north.
Not so the mottled duck. If Louisiana has a duck that it can call its own, said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) waterfowl program manager Larry Reynolds, it’s the mottled duck.
So when it came time to choose the species for this year’s duck stamp competition, Reynolds kept things close to home with the mottled duck.
John Nelson Harris of Groveland, Florida, was selected the winner of the 2021 Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Competition sponsored by LDWF. The annual contest, in its 33rd year, determines the image on what is commonly called the Louisiana Duck Stamp.
Harris, who also won the competition in 2016, has several duck stamp contest victories. He is a three-time winner in the Florida Duck Stamp contest, won the California Duck Stamp Contest in 2017 and 2014 and the Oklahoma Duck Stamp Contest in 2019. He was the first runner-up in the 1998 Federal Duck Stamp Contest and has been featured on two Canadian duck stamps.
Mottled duck was the species selected for this year’s contest and Harris’ painting features a mottled duck calmly swimming in a placid waterbody.
“We had 13 entrants this year, which was down 40% from last year, and had only two from Louisiana artists,’’ said LDWF Waterfowl Program Manager Larry Reynolds. “I think that can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the artwork of the 13 entries was striking and impressive. The winning entry featured intricate detail of the mottled duck, a species special to Louisiana because it calls Louisiana’s coastal marshes home year-round. They are truly our duck.’’
Harris’ entry garnered first-place votes in the second and final round of judging by four of the five judges.
Second went to Anthony Padgett of Noblesville, Indiana. Padgett won the 2009 Louisiana Duck Stamp contest with his painting of a Chesapeake Bay retriever in the Retrievers Save Game series. Padgett was third in last year’s Louisiana Duck Stamp contest.
Tim Taylor of Watertown, South Dakota, was third. Taylor was the 2018 Louisiana Duck Stamp Contest winner with canvasbacks.
Sometimes called black mallards or Summer French ducks, mottled ducks are large, dark-brown dabbling ducks that frequent coastal marsh and adjacent agricultural fields and pastures along the western Gulf Coast from Mexico to coastal Alabama.
Mottled ducks are well-known for being difficult to hunt due to their year-round familiarity with local habitats. Successful hunters must pursue them specifically in small, isolated habitats they use in pairs or small groups after the season opens.
Because mottled ducks live their entire lives in coastal wetland habitats, they are at risk from the degradation and loss of those habitats. Both mid-winter and breeding population estimates for mottled ducks have declined markedly in the last decade, resulting in a growing conservation concern for this iconic Gulf Coast species.
Judges for this year’s contest were: James Harris, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and longtime habitat manager at Delta National Wildlife Refuge located at the mouth of the Mississippi River; Dr. Luke Laborde, a professor of wildlife ecology at LSU who has assisted LDWF with harvest/hunter-opinion surveys and economic valuation of LDWF activities; Randy Caminita, a professional wildlife artist from Folsom and past competitor in the duck stamp competition; John Robinette, a retired LDWF wildlife biologist as well as a wildlife artist; and Eric Ottemann, a partner at a New York Life firm and the incoming Campaign Chairman for Ducks Unlimited.
The Louisiana Legislature authorized the Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp program in 1988. The program was created to generate revenue for conservation and enhancement of waterfowl populations and habitats in Louisiana. Since 1989, more than $14.5 million has been generated for wetland conservation with approximately $6 million spent on land acquisition. A total of $278,000 was raised last year.
In addition, revenues have supported wetland development projects on wildlife management areas and the Louisiana Waterfowl Project, a cooperative endeavor between LDWF, Ducks Unlimited, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide habitat for waterfowl and other wetland birds on private lands.
The 2021 stamp will go on sale June 1, 2021. The artist will retain the original artwork and will have reproduction rights to the image for prints and other commodities after LDWF has used the image to produce the stamps.
For more information, contact Larry Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or 225.765.0456
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