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Animal life


mountain lion
Mountain lion

Wyoming’s diverse habitat allows an abundance of wildlife, with more than 600 species found in the state. Wyoming provides refuge for some of North America’s largest animals, including the moose, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule deer, grizzly bear, and mountain lion. The largest herds of pronghorns in the world still range over Wyoming’s plains, and large herds of elk find a home in its mountains. Smaller mammals include the fox, mink, coyote, bobcat, jackrabbit, cottontail, otter, beaver, and raccoon. The trumpeter swan, once nearly extinct, can be found in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, along with the white pelican, great blue heron, and California gull. Birds of prey include the bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, and several kinds of hawks and owls.

Other birds include the sage grouse, wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant, Canada goose, and numerous species of ducks. The prairie rattlesnake, the state’s only poisonous snake, is found at lower elevations. Brook, cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout are found in many mountain streams, although the cutthroat is the only trout native to Wyoming. Bass, walleye, crappie, perch, channel catfish, and others are found in reservoirs at lower elevations.

Eastern Wyoming, like much of the Great Plains, has soils that are quite fertile. However, only a small percentage of the state’s land is cultivated because of low amounts of annual precipitation and the cool growing season that prevails over much of the area.

Known as mollisols and aridisols in the lowlands, the soils have developed under grasslands and shrublands dominated by plants such as blue grama, western wheatgrass, Indian ricegrass, and sagebrush. When plowed, the soils can be very susceptible to wind erosion. Irrigation usually is necessary to achieve economically valuable harvests. Most of the irrigation occurs on the fertile alluvial soils that have developed along streams and rivers. Mountain soils are known as inceptisols, alfisols, and mollisols. They tend to have more sand and gravel particles mixed in with the finer silt and clay particles. Because higher elevations receive more rain and snow, mountain soils usually support forests. "Wyoming" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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