One fifth of Americans are birdwatchers, according to a report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The report, which is an addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, estimates that birdwatching contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available.
States with the highest birdwatching participation are Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).
Conservationists say the new report highlights the significance of protecting birds, especially given declining population trends for many species.
“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.”