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That was the good news from a report released February 27 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Ken Haddad, FWC’s Executive Director, boasted in a press release, “The total economic impact of wildlife viewing in Florida is strong and growing, almost doubling in the past five years.”

The report, “The 2006 Economic Benefits of Wildlife-Viewing Recreation in Florida,” included many other highlights, such as:
 - “One of every six Florida residents participates in some form of wildlife viewing activity.”
 - “More people travel to Florida to view wildlife than any other state”

Here are the numbers:
binoculars.jpgThe total economic effect of wildlife viewing activities, such as observing wildlife or photographing widlife, in 2006 was $3.15 billion. This number includes retail sales (transportation and lodging are the biggest chunks), sales tax and jobs created. When you add equipment purchases that may only partially be used in wildlife viewing– things like camping equipment, cameras and binoculars– wildlife viewing’s contributions jump to $5.25 billion. Many of these dollars were spent in rural areas, making their impact especially important.

How do these big numbers compare to the less peaceful activities that the FWC also promotes? Not included in the report, but available on the FWC website, is the econonic value of hunting. For 2007, the FWC estimates that hunters spent $412 million relating to hunting. When they add sales taxes and jobs, the grand total economic impact from hunting in Florida: $719 million.

We are glad to see that as hunting declines, nonviolent forms of recreation is replacing it. Bring on the birders!

You can download a press kit with more details about the wildlife viewing report by clicking here.

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