There has been a considerable decline in the wildlife population of Mississippi since the beginning of European settlement. Of the big game the bison, wolf, and cougar, which once were common, have disappeared. The white-tailed deer is now the largest relatively common mammal in the state, and in recent years the deer population has grown greatly. The most common small mammals in Mississippi are the fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, woodchuck, cottontail, squirrel, armadillo, and weasel and, in coastal marshlands, the nutria.
Alligators, turtles, frogs, and terrapins are found in the swampy coastal areas of Mississippi. The nonpoisonous snakes of the state include the black, garter, king, and water snakes, and the poisonous snakes are the coral snake, cottonmouth or water moccasin, copperhead, and the pygmy, timber, and diamondback rattlesnakes.
The Mississippi flyway, one of the four major migratory bird routes of the continent, passes through Mississippi. Species of tropical land birds such as the wood thrush and the Kentucky warbler breed in the coastal and inland portions of Mississippi, while many other birds winter in the state’s marshes. Other migratory birds found in Mississippi during at least part of the year include the Canada goose, dunlin, least tern, sandwich tern, Bonaparte’s gull, and many species of ducks.
The principal birds of the pinewoods are the pine warbler, brown-headed nuthatch, Bachman’s sparrow, and red cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species. In the hardwood forests and open fields of the state are found the prothonotary warbler, hooded warbler, indigo bunting, and Swainson’s warbler. The southern pileated woodpecker is found in the forests of the state.
Noted varieties of freshwater fish of Mississippi are the largemouth bass, buffalo fish, carp, bullhead, bluegill, channel catfish, paddle fish, and crappie. In the waters of the gulf can be found the red and black drum, spotted sea trout, king and Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, mullet, croaker, tarpon, pompano, and flounder. Shrimps, blue crabs, and oysters are common shellfish. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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