Wildlife Trumps Football

Wildlife Trumps Football

More and more people are going into the wild. But unlike the book by Jon Krakauer, or Sean Penn’s movie, where Christopher McCandless torches his money in the desert, these wilderness seekers are spending big bucks. Wildlife watchers generated $122.6 billion in 2006, according to a recently released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, equivalent to the amount of money spent on spectator sports, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys and ski slopes combined.

Justin Nobel
Published: 10/16/2008

More and more people are going into the wild. But unlike the book by Jon Krakauer, or Sean Penn’s movie, where Christopher McCandless torches his money in a desert bonfire, these wilderness seekers are spending big bucks. Wildlife watchers generated $122.6 billion in 2006, according to a recently released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, equivalent to the amount of money spent on spectator sports, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys and ski slopes combined.


Wildlife watchers generate the same revenue as spectator sports, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys and ski slopes combined. (By Justin Nobel)

Here are some interesting numbers from the report:

Nearly a third of the U.S. population, or 71 million people, enjoyed closely observing, photographing and feeding wildlife in 2006, 8 percent more people than in 2001, and four times the number of people who attended NFL football games in 2006.

95 percent of those 71 million wildlife watchers experienced wildlife within a mile from their home; 32 percent took trips more than a mile from home.

$122.6 billion represents the total industry output, which takes into account all businesses supported by wildlife related purchases; $46 billion was spent on wildlife directly.


Four times more people watched wildlife than attended NFL games in 2006. (By Justin Nobel)

Off road vehicles, motor homes, tent trailers, pick up trucks and boats accounted for 27 percent of the $46 billion spent directly on wildlife; Packaged and bulk wild bird food accounted for 7 percent.

The five states with the most wildlife watchers in 2006: California, 6.2 million; Florida, 4.2 million; Texas, 4.2 million; Pennsylvania, 3.9 million; New York, 3.9 million.

Wildlife watchers fund more than a million jobs and provide $9.3 billion in federal taxes and $8.9 billion in state and local taxes.