Birdwatchers Must Be Protected from Chainsaw Huggers
By Tiger Tom
I, Tiger Tom, wish to bring to your attention an imminent and serious economic threat. It endangers the multi-billion dollar birdwatching industry. You may not know that birdwatching in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico generates $25 billion per year in hard cash and it employs over 60,000 people. In economic clout, it’s right up there with some of our major industries. According to the New York Times, “bird watchers now spend more than $25 billion a year on feed, binoculars, travel forays and high-tech innovations like winterized birdbaths and television ‘nest cams’ to track their plumed favorites from home or watch penguins caper live on the Internet.” There now is even a pro-birdwatching brand of coffee, Under Cover Coffee, which is harvested without the stripping of bird habitats that usually goes with coffee farming.
Birdwatching, or birding as its enthusiasts call it, is the fastest growing outdoor activity in America. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the unobtrusive world of bird watchers and feeders now includes about one-fifth of the American population, more than 50 million people. Birdwatchers outnumber hunters and fisherpeople combined.
The great thing about birdwatching is that it exerts an overall positive rather than a negative impact on our world. One writer calls it “a non-consumptive use of renewable resources.” Its very existence, in fact, depends upon the protection of wetlands and wilderness. Birdwatching thrives on conservation and its growth depends upon the preservation of biodiversity. It is very unique in that it thrives on conservation while almost everything else we do seems to depend upon destruction.
I, Tiger Tom, say that the birding industry is far too important for the world economy for us to stand idly by and allow it to be endangered by irresponsible loggers, developers and other predators who are rapidly destroying the habitat of birds and in the process the economic well-being of this important industry. I say that these chainsaw- and bulldozer-hugging vandals must be kept in check. They are a menace to the thriving and essential birding industry.
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What is needed, of course, is a strong birdwatching lobby that comes out in force every time the chainsawers start looking at an old-growth forest with lustful eyes. Why is there no richly funded, hardball-playing National Birdwatching Industry Association to elicit public write-in/call-in campaigns when bird watching jobs are threatened by clear-cutting and strip-mining special interests? I, Tiger Tom, suggest that it is because birdwatchers are far too nice for their own good. While they are out quietly spying on robins or writing down finch or warbler observations, the loggers are out there telling crude treehugger jokes, goosing each other, and cutting. Always cutting.
I, Tiger Tom, say that birdwatching is a vital part of the American economy and it needs protection from the bulldozer lovers. To learn more about birdwatching, visit the Audubon Society website at http://www.americanbirding.org Also see the American Birding Association website at http://www.americanbirding.org .