A 6-year-old Siouxland girl has been stripped of the 2013 Junior Duck Stamp title.
She spent a year creating an oil painting of an image her father took of a canvasback duck, but officials claim she broke contest rules.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service organizes the competition nationwide and the winner's painting is turned into a postage stamp.
It's a prestigious award, and for Madison Grimm's family, winning the South Dakota contest was a proud moment...but short-lived.
Madison Grimm is like any other child: the six year old loves animals and has a close bond with her dad Adam who's a professional wildlife artist.
His passion has been passed down to Madison.
"I was like 2 or 3 and I just like drawing. I do it almost every day," says Madison.
So when she heard about the 2013 Junior Duck Stamp contest, she begged her dad to let her participate. He said yes, and a year later it paid off.
"I felt really excited. I jumped up and down. They were like shocked. Mom couldn't even say anything, she was like speechless," Madison says.
That excitement didn't last long.
"There were people online saying that I drew it and painted it and all of this stuff... I wouldn't feel these emotions if I did that. And now with what they've done, I just wish that and I don't want her to know, I wish she had never entered," says Madison's father Adam.
Madison used a common technique that many professional artists use; it's called a graphite transfer. Basically you take your original image; you rub graphite onto the back of it, place it on a blank white canvas and then follow the contours of the image. When you're done you end up with a guide for your painting.
This is where the controversy comes into play. The Duck Stamp Office disqualified Madison because of her "technique" but the official rules say anyone who uses a "published" photograph will be disqualified.
Madison used an "unpublished" picture her father took.
"I was sad and a little angry. Cause I didn't do anything wrong," she says.
'I've talked with people who know these rules and they've said very specifically that that was never the intent of the way those rules were written. It was just to keep copyright and infringement lawsuits from occurring," Adam says.
Adam and his wife Janet just want things set right, and let their daughter enjoy the win that they say is rightfully hers.
We reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and they told Siouxland News that Madison's painting was inconsistent with the 7 rules that address this issue.
We looked into the rules too and did not see a rule against "graphite transfers."