News Releases

Make watching wildlife your business

News Release

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 waterways.

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 Titusville.

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 events.

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 wildlife?

"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 resources.

For more information on wildlife viewing, go to MyFWC.com/Viewing.

For details on the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, visit http://nbbd.com/fly.



FWC Facts:
Smalltooth sawfish have been reliably measured at 18 feet, but they may grow to over 20 feet long.

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