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Wildlife watching tops outdoors

9/28/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Forget hunting. Forget fishing.

Wildlife watching is responsible for the greatest number of people involved in wildlife-related recreation in Kansas, according to a new survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But anglers and hunters in 2011 still spent the most money, by a wide margin.

Nearly 800,000 Kansas residents -- more than a third -- engage in some sort of wildlife-watching, loosely defined as observing, photographing, feeding, visiting public areas and maintaining plantings and ,natural areas within a mile of home.

Anglers and hunters numbered 453,000 in Kansas, about a fifth of the state's population.

Wildlife activities in Kansas accounted for nearly $900 million in expenditures, with anglers and hunters spending about 80 percent of that. Wildlife-watching accounted for the rest.

Nonresident hunters accounted for four out of every 10 people going afield, most likely for either pheasants or deer. Only a small percentage of the people fishing in Kansas are from outside the state, the report notes.

But the vast majority of people engaged in wildlife-watching do so close to home.

Anglers in 2011 spent more than $200 million in Kansas, about half of that for trip-related expenses. Nearly $70 million was spent for equipment. Of that, $24 million went for fishing equipment.

Hunters, on the other hand, spent nearly $400 million, slightly less than half on trip-related costs.

Hunting equipment amounted to nearly $62 million.

Wildlife-watching spending only amounted to about $210 million, with about a fourth of that for equipment.