The Northern Shoveler, Commonly Known As Spoony, Was The Featured Species For The 2019 Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Competition
story by TRey Iles, LDWF Public Information
Mention spoony to a Louisiana waterfowl hunter and they may roll back their eyes. The northern shoveler, better known as spoony to duck hunters, doesn’t have the star power of its cousins who migrate to the state like the mallard or the pintail.
But Louisiana hunters still welcome the spoony to a great extent.
And it can be an impressive bird to watch fly through the state’s coastal marshes and other waterfowl habitat on a chilly winter morning.
That’s why the northern shoveler was picked to be the featured species in the 2019 Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Guy Crittenden of Richmond, Virginia, was selected the winner of the 2019 contest, which determines the artwork that will be used on what is called the Louisiana Duck Stamp.
It is the second time Crittenden has won the contest. He was selected the top entrant in 2015 and finished second in 2013 and ’14. He is a six-time winner of the Virginia Duck Stamp competition, including in 2017, and has won duck stamp contests in Nevada, Michigan, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Connecticut. He finished fifth in the 1999 Federal Duck Stamp contest.
Crittenden’s drawing features two northern shovelers in flight with several others in the background amid a wetlands scene.
Dale Pousson of Egan, Louisiana, the Louisiana State Duck Stamp winner in 2003, took second. Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Indiana, who won this contest in 2004, 2008, and 2012, and who recently won the 2018 California Gamebird Stamp competition, was third.
The northern shoveler is a dabbling duck named for its large spatulate bill specialized with well-developed lamellae for seining aquatic invertebrates and other food items from the water and pond bottom.
“We had 14 entries this year, and the quality of the best six or seven was such that the judges spent a lot of time looking at every detail of the bird, habitat and overall composition to select a winner,” said Larry Reynolds, LDWF’s Waterfowl Program Manager. “Guy Crittenden’s work featured an outstanding depiction of a late-season shoveler pair but also created a striking scene. It was an impressive combination of bird and habitat.”
Shovelers are commonly seen in marsh and flooded agricultural habitats across Louisiana and are highly visible in large colorful flocks foraging in rice fields. Shoveler populations in North America have grown steadily since the early 1990s and provide abundant hunting opportunity.
Despite the sometimes disparaging remarks about their sporting qualities or table fare, Louisiana hunters took nearly 50,000 shovelers during the 2016-17 hunting season, the sixth most abundant species in the harvest and more than any other state in the Mississippi Flyway except Arkansas. Few species rival the striking appearance of a late-winter drake shoveler, with its dark green head, bright white breast and chestnut flanks.
Judges for this year’s contest included Dr. Jim Bergan, director of freshwater and wetland conservation for The Nature Conservancy; Dr. Kevin Ringelman, professor of wildlife ecology at LSU’s School of Renewable Natural Resources; R.C. Davis, from Amite and the 1998 Louisiana Duck Stamp winner; Dr. Headley Adelmann, retired professor of biology at Southeastern Louisiana University and a long-time wildlife artist; and Stephen Babcock, from Baton Rouge and the state chairman for Ducks Unlimited.
The Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp program was established in 1988 by the Louisiana Legislature to generate revenue for conservation and enhancement of state wetlands, benefitting migratory waterfowl overwintering in Louisiana. The program has generated more than $14 million for wetlands conservation in Louisiana since 1989, including $358,000 last year.
The 2019 stamp will go on sale June 1, 2019. 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.
How is the Money Used?
First, several tracts of land have been acquired with money from the duck stamp program.
Recently, more money has been allocated to flood impoundments, repair levees, maintain pumps and water-control structures and other wetland management on LDWF WMAs.
The money also funds wetland habitat development and enhancement projects on private lands through the Louisiana Waterfowl Project. It also is used for research as LDWF gathers hunter opinion on preferred wetland management activities.
Finally, funds spent on wetland habitat projects are used to leverage other grant funds to do bigger cooperative projects that create, maintain or enhance WMA wetland habitats to expand hunting opportunities for the state’s hunters.
“The revenue from this program has been extremely important to LDWF and Louisiana’s wetland wildlife,” Reynolds said. “Far more species than just ducks and geese depend on Louisiana’s wetland habitat. This contest remains an effective mechanism for generating outstanding designs for our Louisiana Waterfowl Conservation Stamp.”
For more information, contact Larry Reynolds at email@example.com or 225-765-0456
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