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.