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CONSERVATION CORNER

For the week of July 16, 2007
Americans Spent $120 Billion on Wildlife Recreation in 2006
by James L. Cummins

America's passion for wildlife and the outdoors continues to be a major engine of the nation's economy, according to preliminary survey data recently released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In 2006, more than 87 million Americans, or 38 percent of the United States' population age 16 and older hunted, fished or observed wildlife.

They spent $120 billion that year pursuing those activities – an amount roughly equal to Americans' total spending at all spectator sports, casinos, motion pictures, golf courses and country clubs, amusement parks and arcades combined.

"This very important survey shows in real economic and participatory terms the impact that wildlife has on the nation's economy, but simply talking about dollars and cents doesn't fully capture the importance of wildlife to our nation. Wildlife related recreation rejuvenates our spirit and gets us outside pursuing healthy activities," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. "Americans should be proud that the outdoor tradition continues to be such a prevalent part of our lives."

Preliminary data from the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows the importance of wildlife-related recreation to the American people. Of all Americans age 16 or older, 30 million or 13 percent fished and spent $41 billion on their activities, 12.5 million or 5 percent hunted and spent $23 billion, and 71 million or 31 percent observed wildlife and spent $45 billion.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation has been conducted every 5 years since 1955 and is one of the nation's most important wildlife recreation databases. It is considered to be the definitive source of information concerning participation and expenditures associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife recreation nationwide.

This expenditure of $120 billion highlights the benefits of these activities on national and state economies. It is roughly equivalent to one out of every one hundred dollars of goods and services produced in our economy. And much of this activity occurs in places which rely significantly on wildlife-related recreation expenditures for their economic well being.

The full report is available at http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2006.pdf.


James L. Cummins is Executive Director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their web site is www.wildlifemiss.org.