In the mid-19th century, Kansas still had varied and abundant wildlife, including numerous large game animals. Huge herds of American bison, commonly called buffalo, roamed the open plains. There were also whitetailed deer, elk (or wapiti), and antelope, and wild horses that were descendants of stock brought to America by early Spanish explorers. In the woodlands of the east were black bears, cougars, gray wolves, and other, smaller mammals. By the end of the 19th century, indiscriminate hunting and changes in the natural habitat had resulted in the near extinction of all the large mammals except for deer. Today, small herds of buffalo and elk are preserved in wildlife management areas and private ranches. Small mammals include the coyote, red fox, badger, blacktailed prairie dog, weasel, woodchuck, raccoon, opossum, striped skunk, fox squirrel, jack rabbit, and cottontail.
Many species of birds, including resident and migrant species, are found in Kansas. Year-round residents include the cardinal, robin, bluejay, Carolina wren, several species of woodpecker, eastern meadowlark, and western meadowlark, which is the official state bird. Among the summer residents are the barn swallow, ruby-throated hummingbird, catbird, and brown thrasher. Winter residents include the longspur, slate-colored junco, and tree sparrow. Among the many migrant birds that pass through the state are several species of hawks, warblers, sparrows, and waterbirds. Bald eagles are recovering in numbers in the state. The most common game birds, which include resident and migrant species, are the ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite, wild turkey, prairie chicken, mallard, and canvasback.
There are numerous reptiles, especially in the dry western sections. Poisonous snakes include the copperhead and three species of rattlesnake. Among the nonpoisonous snakes are the coachwhip snake, the blue racer, the bull snake, and the prairie king snake. Lizards common in the state include the horned toad, the six-lined racerunner, and several species of skink. Fish in the rivers and lakes of Kansas include several varieties of catfish, and the crappie, carp, walleye, black bass, and bluegill. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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