Make watching wildlife your business
Friday, January 22, 2010
Media contact: Wendy Dial, 850-488-9477
Watching wildlife is such big business in Florida
that Gov. Charlie Crist proclaimed Jan. 25-31 Florida Birding &
Wildlife Watching and Natural Resource Education Week.
More people travel to Florida each year to view
wildlife than to any other state, according to research by the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). That
spells big business for our state, with wildlife viewing generating
more than $3 billion and supporting 19,000 retail jobs in Florida
annually. In addition, one in every six Florida residents
participates in some form of wildlife-viewing activity, whether at
home, in parks or preserves, or along the state's scenic
Florida's largest birding and wildlife-viewing
festival, Brevard Nature Alliance's 13th annual Space Coast Birding
& Wildlife Festival, occurs from Jan. 27 - Feb. 1 in
Two FWC biologists, Mark and Selena Kiser, will be
among the world-renowned avian experts leading birding trips at the
festival. The Kisers are the glue for the FWC's Great Florida
Birding Trail, which directs bird watchers to 489 sites around the
state, including many on the Space Coast.
"Communities can court these economic benefits by
protecting and making natural areas accessible for wildlife
viewing, such as those sites identified on the FWC's Great Florida
Birding Trail (www.floridabirdingtrail.com),"
said Julie Wraithmell, wildlife policy coordinator for Audubon of
Florida. Communities can attract wildlife viewers with field trips
and presentations offered through local nature centers or
conservation groups and even by hosting wildlife-viewing
Crist noted in his proclamation that "Florida
offers more than 30 birding and wildlife festivals to out-of-state
visitors as well as to in-state residents."
The FWC's Chinsegut Nature Center, on the
Brooksville ridge in Hernando County, also helps the public enjoy
wildlife throughout the year. During Florida Birding & Wildlife
Watching and National Resource Education Week, the center is
offering a class on "creating backyard wildlife habitat." It is
from 7-8 p.m. Friday Jan. 29. Locals can learn how to attract
wildlife to their own yards.
What's the big deal about birds and other
"Over 60 million visitors made Florida their
destination in 2009 with taxable recreational sales of more than
$50 billion," said Kiser, the FWC's Birding Trail coordinator. "One
reason is because Florida has the greatest number of bird species
in the eastern United States."
The Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Viewing
Festival alone generated approximately $1 million annually in
economic impact for Brevard County the past three years.
Whether attending next week's festival or the
Chinsegut class, taking a local Audubon chapter-sponsored bird walk
or visiting your nearest Great Florida Birding Trail site, next
week is ideal to get out and enjoy the state's abundant natural
For more information on wildlife viewing, go to
For details on the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife
Festival, visit http://nbbd.com/fly.