Watching wildlife is big business in U.S.
Web posted at: 7:02 p.m. EDT (2302 GMT)
By Environmental News Network staff
(ENN) -- Wildlife watching has flown out of the backyard bird feeder and into the Fortune 500 arena, according to a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Americans spent $29.2 billion in 1996 to observe, feed and photograph wildlife in the United States, according to the report. If wildlife watching were a Fortune 500 company, it would have ranked 23rd that year.
"Sales of seemingly small items such as binoculars and bird seed are becoming a major force in the nation's economy as people take a greater interest in watching wildlife," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.
"The total industry output for wildlife watching -- the overall economic 'ripple effect' of the $29.2 billion Americans spent in 1996 -- is an impressive $85.4 billion," Clark said.
For many local communities, the economic potential of their wildlife-watching opportunities still may be unrealized. The report said investments in wildlife and wild places are investments in the United States' natural resource legacy and its economic future.
According to the report, wildlife watching creates more than 1 million jobs, contributes $24.2 billion in employment income, generates $323.5 million in state income tax revenue and $3.8 billion in federal income tax revenue. Wildlife watching also produces $1.04 billion in state sales tax revenue. In addition, spending by wildlife watchers increased by 21 percent since 1991, after adjusting for inflation.
Three types of expenditures are detailed in the report. Expenditures for equipment and related items, such as binoculars, cameras, wild bird food, membership in wildlife organizations, camping equipment and motor homes, accounts for 57 percent of total spending.
Trip-related expenditures, such as for food, lodging and transportation, constitute 32 percent of total spending by wildlife watchers. Other items, such as books, magazines, contributions and land-leasing, make up 11 percent of wildlife watchers' spending.
Wildlife watchers are identified in the report as people whose principal motivation for spending or traveling is wildlife watching
Nearly 63 million people age 16 and older -- 31 percent of the U.S. population -- were wildlife watchers in 1996, according to the report.
The report was based on the Fish and Wildlife Service's 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, which is conducted every five years by the Census Bureau. The survey, based on more than 34,000 interviews with anglers, hunters and wildlife watchers, is the most comprehensive survey of wildlife-related recreation in the United States.
Copies of the 1996 National and State Economic Impacts of Wildlife Watching and the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation are available by calling the Fish and Wildlife Service publications unit at (304) 876-7203.
For more information, contact Laury Parramore at the Fish and Wildlife Service at (202) 208-5634, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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