Who would think that watching birds at the backyard feeder or going farther afield to catch sight of an eagle or falcon might generate billions of dollars? Apparently it will if enough people are doing it.
I just saw a new report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that 71 million people enjoy watching, feeding or photographing wildlife. (That was based on 2006 surveys—up 8 percent from a 2001 survey). In doing so, they spent $45.7 billion on equipment and trips. That in turn generated more than $122 billion in economic output, more than 1 million jobs and $18 billion nationally in local, state and federal tax revenue. That $45.7 billion is more than the revenue from all spectator sports, amusement parks, arcades, bowling centers and skiing facilities.
About 2.25 million Missourians make up part of the 71 million total. They spent almost $870 million in retail sales that generated another $700 million in wages and tax revenues that impacted our state’s overall economy. That hummingbird juice and those sunflower seeds in feeders sure do add up!