When the state was a Native American hunting ground, buffalo, elk, bears, cougars, deer, and other large mammals, roamed the territory. Most of these large species have since disappeared from the state. However, deer are very numerous and black bear have increased in number in recent years. Conservation measures have insured the survival of many smaller animals, including beaver, otter, marten, raccoon, mink, skunk, opossum, squirrels, rabbit, bobcats (see Lynx), foxes, and groundhogs.
The state’s many birds include migratory grebe, loons, ducks, and geese. Herons and the American bittern fly up annually from the South. There are also plover, quail, woodcocks, snipes, and sandpipers and such predatory birds as owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, ospreys, and turkey vultures. Among the numerous songbirds are the cardinal, which is the state bird; the wood thrush; the brown thrasher; and the scarlet tanager.
Game fish include trout, bass, and pike in the mountain streams and in the rivers. There are two poisonous snakes, the timber rattlesnake and the copperhead, and 18 species of nonpoisonous snakes.
Species of West Virginia animals that are threatened or endangered include the eastern puma, the northern flying squirrel, the three-toothed land snail, two species of mussels found in the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, the Virginia big-eared bat, and the Indiana bat. Among the birds of West Virginia, the passenger pigeon, once so numerous that flocks broke down trees in which they roosted at night, is now extinct. The bald eagle and the peregrine falcon are threatened species. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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