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story.lead_photo.caption A mallard duck, left, and a wood duck. (Democrat-Gazette file photos)

Add ducks to the list of issues dividing lawmakers in the state Capitol as the session winds to a close.

As the House slogged through a lengthy list of bills Monday, House Bill 1748 spurred a few minutes of lively debate over which is the preferred waterfowl species: the wood duck or the mallard.

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Which should be the official state duck?

The bill would designate an official state duck, a title its original sponsor says was intended for the mallard, because the hunt for it is an economic driver in parts of the state. In committee, however, supporters of the wood duck took the liberty of having the bill amended to reflect their preference for the brightly hued birds. The change also took the mallard-favoring sponsor, Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R-Hermitage, off the legislation.

When the bill was sent to the House floor Monday, Wardlaw cried foul.

Wardlaw, a farmer, medical salesman and avid duck hunter, said Arkansas is known to outsiders as a premier location for mallard hunting, and its official duck should represent that. He moved to have the bill sent back to committee to be returned to its original iteration.

Defending the change, Rep. Mark McElroy, D-Tillar, said the wood duck spends more of its time in Arkansas.

"The mallard duck is just passing through and goes back to Canada. He doesn't even pay taxes here," McElroy said.

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The duck debate drew laughter from much of the chamber. However, a voice vote on Wardlaw's motion was closely divided. House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, ruled the "ayes" had it, sending the bill back to committee.

Speaking to a reporter later in his office -- adorned with oil paintings and photographs of mallards -- Wardlaw said the wood ducks he's hunted often have bands indicating they're not Arkansas natives. He said wood duck supporters are enamored with its plumage, not the state's image.

"It's totally against our advertising. We're known for killing mallards," Wardlaw said. "Just 'cause something's pretty doesn't mean that's what we need to be."

Arkansas already has a state bird, the northern mockingbird.

A Section on 03/28/2017

Print Headline: No ducking the issue on official waterfowl; Wood, mallard fans vie for top billing


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Archived Comments

  • troutman
    March 28, 2017 at 8:10 a.m.

    Why don't these dumb butts just go back home. They have wasted way too much of our money and time.

  • Queen1976
    March 28, 2017 at 9:19 a.m.

    Our representatives need to focus on things that the people that voted them into office are concerned about: high crime rates in LR, out-of-control healthcare costs, etc etc, instead of wasting OUR money on stupid crap like this! We need to fire them all!!

  • TimberTopper
    March 28, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

    Flush the toilet!

  • KjTucker
    March 28, 2017 at 9:33 a.m.

    I know which duck they should pick: DAFFY DUCK as in these laughable legislators seem to think state chambers are a taxpayer financed comedy zone where they can waste time and money on nonsense like state ducks and reprimanding NCAA referees. Can anyone say recall?

    March 28, 2017 at 12:13 p.m.

    DuckHeads, That is what we have serving in the Legislature in the Great state of Arkansas. Get Divine Guidance from Rapert and get on with the Show.

  • dunk7474
    March 28, 2017 at 12:33 p.m.

    When they can't think of a way to steal money they are at a total loss for something to do that helps us. I'm surprised they haven't passed a law that every vagina must carry a gun. How's that pot bill coming?

  • Packman
    March 28, 2017 at 1:41 p.m.

    I vote for mallard. They make much better table fare.

  • LR1955
    March 28, 2017 at 6:12 p.m.

    We don't need a state duck!

  • ScooterArealeous
    March 29, 2017 at 1:32 a.m.

    If it walks like a duck and gabbles like a duck don't rule out the chance that it might just be a quack Arkie ledgeemanator.

  • ScooterArealeous
    March 29, 2017 at 1:39 a.m.

    Do we have a state mosquito yet?