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I came across some very disturbing information while reading the latest edition of The Outdoorsman (Oct.-Dec. 2008 Edition, Bulletin Number 31, page 6). As part of a larger article by George Dovel called, “Lack of Integrity in State Wildlife Management”, if found this frightening bit of information.

The Wildlife Watching Lie Exposed
The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation Survey claim that Wildlife Watchers outnumber hunters and fishermen and spend $billions on that activity was based on applying virtually all of the expenses from every trip by tourists or other travelers to “Wildlife Watching.” The fact that seeing wildlife was only an infrequent incidental activity on almost all of those trips was conveniently ignored.

Yet that false information was used to implement the multi-billion-dollar nationwide “Watchable Wildlife” program in state and federal agencies. Now the “USDA Forest Service Visitor Use Monitoring Results for FY 2007,” dated October 28, 2008, provides further proof that the wildlife watching claims are simply a myth promoted by a small minority of bird watchers who want hunters and other taxpayers to fund their private recreation.

Although more than a third of the visitors said they enjoyed seeing natural wonders, relaxing, hiking and seeing wildlife on their visit, only 2.3%* reported viewing wildlife as a primary activity! But even more revealing, despite millions of dollars reportedly spent by the agencies to develop birding trails and wildlife viewing sites over the past few years, National Forest visitor use declined dramatically from FY2004 through FY2007!

(* The tiny 2.3% viewing wildlife compares to 16.5% hiking or walking; 15.0% hunting or fishing; 14.8% downhill skiing; and 13.4% viewing natural features)

The “National Visitor Use Monitoring Results” can be found by following the link provided.

Considering that the results of the study proclaim the following, then the results may need to be discarded as well.

Scope and purpose of the National Visitor Use Monitoring program

The National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) program provides reliable information about recreation
visitors to national forest system managed lands at the national, regional, and forest level. Information
about the quantity and quality of recreation visits is required for national forest plans, Executive Order
12862 (Setting Customer Service Standards), and implementation of the National Recreation Agenda. To
improve public service, the agency’s Strategic and Annual Performance Plans require measuring trends in
user satisfaction and use levels. NVUM information assists Congress, Forest Service leaders, and
program managers in making sound decisions that best serve the public and protect valuable natural
resources by providing science based, reliable information about the type, quantity, quality and location
of recreation use on public lands. The information collected is also important to external customers
including state agencies and private industry. NVUM methodology and analysis is explained in detail in
the research paper entitled: Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring Process: Research Method
Documentation; English, Kocis, Zarnoch, and Arnold; Southern Research Station; May 2002
(http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum).

Exposing this lie is a kick in the groin to hunters, fishermen and trappers who have contributed faithfully through license fees doing so under the premise that the overseers of that money was being spent legally and in good faith. We now discover that studies were manipulated to achieve desired results in order to justify the spending of license dollars for wildlife watching activities. This is shameful and should rile the dander of every hunter, fisherman and trapper in America.

*Update* Dec. 26, 2008, 1:56 p.m. – You can access the entire issue of The Outdoorsman by following this link.

Tom Remington