Victor artist Joe Thornbrugh has won Montana's state waterfowl stamp contest for the fourth time. Based on the decision of a panel of six judges in Helena on November 13, his painting of a golden retriever with a colorful drake mallard in its mouth will be reproduced as Montana's 1997 waterfowl stamp.
Thornbrugh also won the stamp's inaugural competition in 1986, as well as the 1990 and 1991 competitions.
Jim Borgreen, Lewistown, Wayne Dowdy of Polson and Darrell Davis, Helena, placed second, third and fourth, respectively.
Thornbrugh is a full-time artist whose paintings divulge the painstaking research he undertakes on his subjects before he ever places a brush on canvas. His paintings also reflect his life-long interest in wildlife, particularly waterfowl and other birds, his favorite artistic subjects.
The 1985 Legislature gave Fish, Wildlife & Parks the authority to produce and sell the waterfowl stamp. Waterfowl hunters are required to purchase the $5 stamps, and proceeds from sales of the stamps and related artwork each year are used to fund waterfowl habitat improvement projects and develop and enhance wetlands for the long-term benefit of waterfowl in Montana.
Since the first state waterfowl stamp was sold in 1986, over $1.5 million has been spent to fund wetland enhancement projects in Montana.