The bison, wolves, and elk (wapiti) that once roamed Tennessee have now disappeared from the state, and the only large mammals remaining are the black bear, the white-tailed deer, and the cougar. Red wolves were recently reintroduced into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Among the small mammals now found are the red fox, beaver, mink, raccoon, striped skunk, long-tailed weasel, and opossum. Other small mammals also found in Tennessee include the muskrat, woodchuck, cottontail, swamp rabbit, gray fox, and southern flying squirrel.
Western Tennessee lies in the Mississippi Flyway, and each spring and fall thousands of migratory birds pass through the state. Thousands of ducks spend the winter in the state. Among the other game birds of Tennessee are the bobwhite, ruffed grouse, mourning dove, and turkey.
The year-round bird residents of Tennessee include the robin, eastern bluebird, cardinal, meadowlark, Carolina chickadee, and the mockingbird, the state bird. Also found are the yellow-shafted flicker, whippoorwill, Carolina wren, sparrow hawk, and several species of woodpeckers. The summer bird residents include the brown thrasher, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeak, and species of warblers, sparrows, thrushes, flycatchers, hawks, and swallows.
There are many varieties of turtles, lizards, and snakes in Tennessee. The three poisonous snakes found there are the copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattlesnake.
Among the nonpoisonous snakes are the black rat snake, black racer, garter snake, king snake, water snake, and pine snake. Fish found in the waters of Tennessee include black bass, carp, perch, catfish, and crappie.
Among federal agencies the TVA has played a very important role in conservation efforts, because the greater part of the state lies within the Tennessee river basin. The principal state agency responsible for conservation is the Tennessee department of conservation. Soil erosion, floods, and mismanagement of forests are the chief conservation problems. Erosion is widespread, because land too steep for cultivation has been plowed for centuries.
Precious top soil has not only been washed away by the rivers but has silted up reservoirs, thereby creating further problems. Many critically eroded areas have been reforested with seedling trees, and other conservation techniques, such as contour plowing, have been introduced. The dams, reservoirs, and other control works on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers and their tributaries help to prevent flooding.
The Tennessee pollution control board seeks to prevent pollution of the water and air. The Surface Mining Act of 1972 placed surface mining operations under strict control. In 2008 the state had 13 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people.
Some progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 19 percent. Still, this reduction was less than that recorded by many other states. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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