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NAT’L – WILDLIFE – What Makes a Good Duck Painting? The Government Suggests Some Hunting

In his youth, Richard Clifton woke up before dawn to go duck hunting in the marshes of Delaware. He pushed his boat into the water and waited. Sometimes a mallard flew overhead, a silhouette in the dark with the wind whistling through its feathers. His memories of the quiet waters of Slaughter Creek have inspired his art for years. Now one of his paintings has entangled him in a controversy in one of the nation’s top competitions for duck painters: the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. Mr. Clifton, 58, was announced the winner over 137 other artists late last month, landing him in a debate about conservation and art that started with one new federal rule. This year, for the first time, artists were required to incorporate hunting objects or scenes into their paintings to, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, celebrate the American “waterfowl hunting heritage.” The requirement has unsettled the small world of duck art since it was proposed early this year. Some artists said it interfered with the independence of their vision, or required them to incorporate the “litter” of spent casings. The rule propelled the contest, which has mostly flown under the radar for 71 years, into a series by the National Audubon Society and articles by national and international news outlets. Last month, Friends of Animals, a rights group, filed a lawsuit in Connecticut district court seeking to have the rule removed.  [full article]

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