Fish and fowl figure into Delaware’s economy in many ways, including the artistic.

The latest candidates in the First State’s Waterfowl Stamp and Trout Stamp competition were unveiled Thursday, April 14.

The winning paintings will be turned into stamps that accompany hunting and fishing permits and finance environmental programs and trout pond stocking across the state.

The sale of stamps to hunters and fishermen is vital to keeping these programs thriving for all to enjoy, said David Saveikis, director of DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s become a tradition,” Saveikis said. “It merges art and conservation.”

Entries come from across the United States, he said.

“While there are great artists in Delaware, the contest is open nationwide to ensure a competitive variety of work and to broaden interest in the contest,” Saveikis said.

Federal match

The state began its waterfowl stamp competition in 1980 and since has raised more than $2.8 million, Saveikis said.

“The money doesn’t just benefit waterfowl,” he said. “It’s used for wetland preservation, conservation and management of game and nongame wildlife.”

Each dollar brought in from sale of the stamps is matched with $3 of federal funding, which comes from a tax on firearms and other hunting equipment, Saveikis said. The money is sequestered so that it cannot be used for other purposes.

The waterfowl stamp contest opens every Nov. 1. Prior winners can submit new paintings after waiting at least a year. To maintain anonymity, artists are not allowed to sign their paintings; they are identified by number.

Five randomly selected outdoorsmen judged the waterfowl paintings. Anthony Gonzon of DNREC’s biodiversity management office, one of the judges, said he looks for accuracy when critiquing an entry.

“I look for the right proportions – does it really capture the essence of waterfowl in the state,” he said. “Then I look to see if it’s something that can realistically be seen in the wild.”

Each year the Division of Fish and Wildlife puts out details on the species of waterfowl and breed of dog to be on each stamp.

For the 2017/2018 season, DNREC wanted the canvasback duck and the Chesapeake Bay retriever. Artists are allowed to include other, Delaware-related subjects in the background.

Catherine Temple was announced April 18 as the winner of this year’s contest. Her painting, which the state retains, is used not only for reproduction of the permit stamp but for a series of highly collectable prints. She receives a $2,500 cash award and a number of reproduced prints.

Streams, ponds stocked annually

Although trout fishing is a popular pastime in Delaware, it needs state support to survive. Because water temperatures are generally too warm, trout only are present when DNREC stocks selected ponds and streams.

The fish do not spawn in Delaware’s waters and so their numbers are replenished each year from commercial fisheries funded from the sale of the trout stamps

Brown and rainbow trout are the most common species brought into the state, while golden and brook trout are introduced occasionally. Although the state has required anglers to buy trout stamps for more than 80 years, it only started the art program in 1977.

The trout stamp competition is much the same as the waterfowl contest. Artists are allowed two entries.

Saveikis did not have figures for how much money the trout stamp has raised. The federal government matches state funding three-to-one. The federal money is from an excise tax on fishing equipment, he said.

This year’s winner, also announced April 18, was Jeffrey Klinefelter, who has won three prior waterfowl stamp contests and five trout stamp contests.

Klinefelter receives a check for $250 and a rosette ribbon for his achievement. His painting will be used on the cover of DNREC’s quarterly Outdoors Delaware conservation magazine, the cover of the state fishing guide and for media promotions.

Stocking streams in northern New Castle County takes place within two weeks of the beginning of the season, the first Saturday in April, with some being restocked through April. Tidbury Pond and Newton Pond in Kent and Sussex counties were stocked in March, although there are no plans to replenish those areas.