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Wildlife Viewing

The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that over 90 million US residents, 16-years and older, participated in wildlife-related recreation. During that year, 33.1 million people fished, 13.7 million hunted and 71.8 million participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity including observing, feeding or photographing fish and other wildlife in the United States.

Montana has become a destination state specifically for birdwatchers from other areas. They come to see the Lewis’ woodpecker and Clark’s nutcracker, as they follow in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They come to see prairie birds like the burrowing owl, chestnut-collared longspur and Sprague’s pipit. They come to see rare mountain birds like the great gray owl and white-tailed ptarmigan. They also come in ‘flocks’ to watch huge migrations of snow geese in the spring. In Montana, 291 thousand people observed birds around their home or during birding trips. Several communities in Montana hold annual birding festivals, events which contribute significantly to the local economy and attract visitors from within and outside of Montana.

Bird watching is a great way to enjoy Montana's outdoors.

A great example of a wildlife viewing project for which MFWP was a partner is this project in northwest Montana.

The 2011 national survey found that 570 thousand Montana residents and onresidents 16-years and older fished, hunted or wildlife watched in Montana. While all of these wildlife enthusiasts are here they spend money!! The national survey showed in fact that they spent $1.4 billion in Montana in 2011.

Wildlife-related recreation is a major driver of the nation’s economy. The 2011 survey estimates that Americans spent $144.7 billion on their activities, which equated to 1% of the Gross Domestic Project. Sportspersons spent a total of $89.8 billion in 2011: $41.8 billion on fishing, $33.7 billion on hunting and $14.3 billion on items used for both hunting and fishing. Wildlife watchers spent $54.9 billion on their activities around the home and on trips away from home.

NW Montana Wildlife Viewing Area

Photo of View

A collaborative project between MFWP and a Montana land trust will create a public wildlife viewing area northwest of Kalispell. The entire project is within a Tier I aquatic focal area and is critical for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and sandhill cranes. This area supports some of the highest numbers and diversity of wetland birds in the Flathead Valley; 129 species of birds have been documented using the area including tens of thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors. This project is especially critical for sandhill cranes which use a 4-square mile staging area including this wetland during their fall migration. Over 400 sandhill cranes have been seen at one time staging in this area which also serves as a night roost site for the birds.