Don’t shoot the golden goose of wildlife viewing – AK Dispatch

Dr. Stephen Stringham,  Alaska Dispatch, January 26, 2014

One of the Alaska’s most popular outdoor activities is watching wildlife — for instance bears, wolves, moose, Dall sheep, sea lions, or songbirds. Each year, viewers pour nearly a billion dollars into our restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, sporting goods stores, motels, air taxi services, and many other businesses, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 More than $365 million pours in as direct income for private business owners, as well as employee salaries and wages, from wildlife viewing. Another $164 million comes in through direct tax revenues — $90 million state and local, $74 million federal. Sightseeing adds an additional chunk of money. Each time those dollars are again spent locally, the economy gets a further boost. Taking that boost into account, total value of wildlife viewing is estimated at nearly double the above figures: $979 million, $620 million, $154 million, and $126 million, respectively. Directly or indirectly, most Alaska families benefit from ecotourism.

 Wise government would do everything possible to assure the health and growth of this golden goose. Yet I see no evidence that Juneau or the Board of Game makes any real effort to do so…

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch