WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- A federal study indicates one of every five U.S. citizens was involved in birdwatching during 2006, contributing $36 billion to the nation's economy.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report indicates total participation in bird watching during 2006, the latest period for which statistics are available, totaled 48 million people -- remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.
Participation was generally greater in the northern half of the nation. The five top states with the greatest birding participation were Montana at 40 percent, Maine 39 percent, Vermont 38 percent and Minnesota and Iowa at 33 percent each.
"This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study further reinforces the importance of bird conservation," said Darin Schroeder, the American Bird Conservancy's vice president for conservation advocacy. He said researchers found one-third of all U.S. bird species are either declining in number or facing serious threats.
The report is available at http://library.fws.gov/Pubs/birding_natsurvey06.pdf.