By Gary Bogue
Thursday, July 16th, 2009 at 8:23 am in Bird Watching.
A new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds, and in doing so, birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which economic data are available.
“This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study further reinforces the importance of bird conservation,” said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for Conservation Advocacy. “The State of the Birds report released earlier this year found that one-third of all bird species in the U.S. are in decline or facing serious threats. This report confirms that losing these species could have significant economic consequences.”
The report — “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis” — shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.
Participation rates vary, but are generally greater in the northern half of the country. The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).
The report identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what kinds of birds they watch. In addition to demographic information, this report also provides an estimate of how much birders spend on their hobby and the economic impact of these expenditures.
The report is an addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The 2006 survey is the eleventh in a series of surveys conducted about every 5 years that began in 1955. The survey, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with state wildlife agencies and national conservation organizations, has become the reference for participation and expenditure information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States.
The survey helps quantify how enjoyment of the outdoors and wildlife contributes to society and promotes a healthy economy.
** A copy of the “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis” can be downloaded at http://library.fws.gov/Pubs/birding_natsurvey06.pdf
In conjunction with the release of the birding report, the Service also issued another similar addendum to the 2006 Survey entitled, “Wildlife Watching Trends: 1991–2006 A Reference Report.” This report shows similar trends in wildlife-watching, a broader category that includes large and small-mammal viewing.
** An overview of the Survey, and a wealth of other information, can be found on-line at: http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/National_Survey.htm
See? I knew it! We’re all for the birds! /Gary