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June 10, 1998                       Laury Parramore  202-208-5634
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 to observe, feed, and photograph 
wildlife in the United States, according to the report, "1996 
National and State Economic Impacts of Wildlife Watching."  If 
wildlife-watching were a Fortune 500 company in 1996, it would 
have ranked 23rd.
"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 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." 
For many local communities, the economic potential of their 
wildlife-watching opportunities still may be unrealized.  This 
report shows that nationally and locally, investments in wildlife 
and wild places are investments in this country's natural 
resource legacy, and in its economic future.
According to the report, wildlife watching creates more than 1 
million jobs, contributes $24.2 billion in employment income, and 
generates $323.5 million in state income tax and $3.8 billion in 
Federal income tax.  Wildlife watching also produces $1.04 
billion in state sales tax.  In addition, spending by wildlife 
watchers increased by 21 percent since 1991, when the figures are 
adjusted 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 is based on the Service's "1996 National 
Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation," 
which is conducted every 5 years by the U.S. 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 report, "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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's publications unit at 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency 
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and 
wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the 
American people.  The Service's almost 93 million acres include 
514 national wildlife refuges, 78 ecological services field 
stations, 65 national fish hatcheries, 50 wildlife coordination 
areas, and 38 wetland management districts with waterfowl 
production areas. 
The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird 
populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves 
and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, administers the 
Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their 
conservation efforts.  It also oversees the Federal Aid program 
that distributes Federal excise taxes on fishing and hunting 
equipment to state wildlife agencies.  This program is a 
cornerstone of the Nation's wildlife management efforts, funding 
fish and wildlife restoration, boating access, hunter education, 
shooting ranges, and related projects across America.

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