The grizzly bear, designated as the state animal of California, disappeared from the state in the 1920s. Many of the other large animals of California, such as the cougar and bobcat, are mainly sighted in the foothills and woodlands throughout the state, wherever deer herds exist. More abundant are the black bear, mule deer, and wapiti, or Roosevelt elk, of the mountains, the black-tailed jackrabbit, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn of the deserts, and the marmot, beaver, raccoon, red fox, weasel, chipmunk, and western gray squirrel of the forests. The native Sierra Nevada fox is only seen in the Sierra Nevada while its counterpart, the red fox, an introduced species, is prolific throughout the state. Although some natural predators, such as the grizzly bear, have long since disappeared from the state, the population of other predators, such as the mountain lion, has remained stable or increased slightly during the past 20 years. Likewise, populations of the species that are preyed upon, such as mule deer, have also remained stable.
Birds of the Sierra Nevada include Steller’s jay, the black-headed grosbeak, western bluebird, western tanager, acorn woodpecker, and several warblers. The golden eagle and the bald eagle are sometimes seen soaring among the crags of the Sierra Nevada. The wren-tit and the California quail, which is the state bird, are characteristic of the chaparral country, as are the cactus wren and the canyon wren of the desert. In the wild, rugged mountains behind Santa Barbara live the few remaining wild specimens of America’s largest bird, the California condor. Gulls, terns, cormorants, pelicans, and murres are common residents along the coast. The reptiles of California include many species of snakes, lizards, and turtles. Most abundant in the deserts, they include the western diamond rattlesnake, sidewinder, desert tortoise, horned toad, and gila monster.
California’s temperate coastal waters support a great variety of marine life. Although a variety of species are seen, primarily Gray whales visit these waters. The islands and rocky capes serve as sea lion rookeries, and there are a few small colonies of sea otter and elephant seals. Marine fish include tuna, salmon, bass, anchovies, sardines, squid, and herring, which are preyed upon by predatory species such as mackerel, barracuda, rockfish, sole, and grunion, which is found only off the shores of California. Shellfish include abalones, clams, lobsters, shrimp, and oysters.
Many species of freshwater fish inhabit the lakes and rivers. Golden trout are native to Sequoia National Park, as are rainbow trout to the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Brook trout and brown trout have been introduced into Californian streams. Salmon and steelhead (sea-going rainbow trout) also swim the streams of California.
Newly hatched fish, called fingerlings, make their way downstream at the beginning of their long trek far out into the Pacific Ocean. When mature, the fish return to their ancestral streams to spawn. However, the numbers of fish making the migration has diminished to a mere fraction of what it once was. Causes of the decline include warming stream waters associated with logging, the construction of dams, pollution, and periodic droughts, as well as the pressures of commercial and sport fisheries. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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