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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases "Birding in the United States" Report


October 22, 2003

Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636

A new federal economic report found that 46 million birdwatchers across
America spent $32 billion in 2001 pursuing one of the Nation's most popular outdoor activities according to a report from the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The report, Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis, is the first of its kind analyzing data from the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

"Nearly one in five Americans is a bird watcher," said Service Director Steve Williams. "This report recognizes what we always thought to be true. Birdwatching is very popular and contributes greatly to our economy, so it is important that we continue to work with our partners to restore and protect habitat to ensure healthy bird populations."

Montana, Vermont and Wisconsin led the Nation in birding participation
rates as a percent of total State population. California, New York and Pennsylvania had the most birders.

Birders spent $32 billion on gear such as binoculars, travel, food and big ticket items such as canoes, cabins and off-road vehicles. This spending generated $85 billion in overall economic output and $13 billion in federal and state income taxes, and supported more than 863,000 jobs.

To be considered a birdwatcher, an individual must take a trip a mile or more from home for the primary purpose of observing birds or must closely observe or try to identify birds around the home. Those who notice birds while mowing the lawn or picnicking at the beach were not counted as birders. Trips to zoos and observing captive birds also did not count as birdwatching. Watching birds around the home is the most common form of bird-watching. Taking trips away from home counted for 40 percent (18 million) of birders.

The full report is available on-line at <>.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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