WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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July 16, 1998
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

Wildlife viewing is big business in Washington State

OLYMPIA -- More than a third of the state's population participates in wildlife viewing and those wildlife watchers spent nearly $1.7 billion on the pursuit here in 1996, according to a recent Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife report.

The "Economic Benefits of Wildlife-Watching Activities in Washington" report found that wildlife watchers spent $1.1 billion on equipment purchases; $509 million on trip-related expenses including food and lodging; $106 million for land-use fees and rentals, and $59 million for items such as magazines, books, membership dues and other items.

The popularity of wildlife viewing here mirrors the trend elsewhere in the nation. Americans spent $29.2 billion to observe, feed and photograph wildlife in 1996, according to a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, which noted that if wildlife- watching were a company, it would have ranked 23rd among Fortune 500 corporations.

In Washington the polularity of wildlife-viewing activities translates to:

  • Nearly 8,000 jobs supported by watchable wildlife activities.
  • Destination tourism drawing about 270,000 out-of-state visitors who spent nearly 6 million visitor-days here in 1996.
  • State sales tax proceeds amounting to $56.9 million.
The growing interest in wildlife viewing prompted WDFW to establish a Watchable Wildlife program in 1997, aimed at providing recreational opportunities to the public, promoting understanding of wildlife habitat needs and linking wildlife conservation and management to economic opportunities in local communities.