The remote wilderness areas of Washington provide a home for many large mammals. Great herds of Roosevelt, or Olympic, elk, which is the largest of the wapiti, roam the Olympic Peninsula. White-tailed deer and mule deer, as well as black bears and mountain goats, are also found in Washington. Predators include the cougar (or mountain lion), Canada lynx, coyote, and red fox. Mammals such as the orca and harbor seal are found in coastal waters. Among the smaller mammals are raccoon, beaver, skunks, mink, and otter. Rodents include squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, and, at high elevations, marmots.
Birds found in Washington’s forests include the crow, raven, Oregon jay, western tanager, thrush, kingfisher, ruffed grouse, and the willow goldfinch, which is the state bird. Birds of prey include the bald eagle and several species of hawks and owls.
Among the migratory waterfowl are the Canada goose, canvasback, black brant, cinnamon teal, and wood duck. Washington’s seabirds include the Heermann’s gull, glaucous-winged gull, Leach’s petrel, and Brandt’s cormorant. The great blue heron and the loon are found on inland waters. Many reptiles and amphibians are found in Washington, including turtles, lizards, salamanders, toads, frogs, garter snakes, and bull snakes. The poisonous prairie rattlesnake is occasionally found in eastern Washington.
Five species of salmon are found in Washington’s waters, including the king (or Chinook), the sockeye, the pink, the chum, and the coho. During the 1990s the Environmental Protection Agency listed these salmon species as endangered or threatened.
Steelhead, a sea-going rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden are native to the state, and largemouth and smallmouth black bass are also found. The white sturgeon is the large freshwater fish found in the Columbia River. Smelt, halibut, red snapper, tuna, albacore, and pilchard are found in the ocean waters of the Pacific, and clams and oysters are common along the Pacific Coast and the beaches of Puget Sound.
The major conservation activities in Washington are soil conservation, fish and wildlife management, forest management, land reclamation, and flood control. Among the federal agencies with conservation programs in the state are the Forest Service, which administers millions of acres of national forest land, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the bureaus of Reclamation, Land Management, and Indian Affairs, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The Department of Ecology is the lead state agency on environmental issues.
Restoring fish stocks is a major conservation issue in the Pacific Northwest. Hydroelectric power development and habitat destruction have greatly reduced the population of wild salmon and other fish in the region. Where possible, dams have been provided with fish ladders to permit salmon to migrate to their spawning places. But the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River is an impassable obstacle. Today, state and federal agencies coordinate and monitor salmon-recovery efforts. Threatened and endangered fish species are captured and bred in artificial hatcheries. They are then released into rivers. "Washington" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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