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Wild animals


Squirrel in USA
Squirrel in USA

New Mexico is home to a great diversity of animal life. Many of the species are wide-ranging over the forests of western North America, especially those in the forested higher elevations. There are many more species that are limited in their ranges by a combination of latitude, elevation, and the availability of water. The patterns in today’s wildlife show the effects of widespread grazing, fire-suppression, logging, road-building, and other human impacts that tend to disrupt the free range of animals. Some of the more remarkable species include the coatimundi, black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, elk, several species of fox, chipmunk, bushy-tailed woodrat, muskrat, Abert’s and fox squirrel, yellow-bellied marmot, bobcat, cougar, beaver, and porcupine. There are a few Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the more remote, higher elevations of the central mountains and Mexican Desert bighorn sheep in the southwestern ranges. The Mexican wolf, now extinct in the state, is being considered for reintroduction in the Gila Wilderness Area in southwestern New Mexico.

Common forest birds include the northern goshawk, blue grouse, band-tailed pigeon, flammulated owl, northern pygmy owl, northern saw-whet owl, Steller’s jay, scrub jay, piñon jay, several species of woodpecker and sapsucker, Clark’s nutcracker, the western and mountain bluebirds, mountain chickadee, wild turkey, various species of wood warbler, the bald eagle, and a variety of hawks and falcons. In the colder waters of high mountain streams and lakes are a variety of trout, including rainbow, lake, brook, cutthroat, and brown, and kokanee salmon.

At lower elevations, particularly in the drier, southern half of the state, wildlife is seldom seen. Many of the animals are small and nocturnal, or active only at night.

Most noted among these are several varieties of bats, which reside during the day in caves and caverns and which venture forth at dusk by the millions. Other small animals include kangaroo rats, pack rats, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and a variety of lizards and snakes. In the grasslands along the eastern border with Texas and in the Río Grande and Pecos River valleys, prairie dogs were once plentiful but are becoming rare. Peccaries (or javelinas) are fairly common in the southwestern “bootheel” part of the state.

Coyotes are common statewide and pronghorn can be seen from the highway all along the eastern plains. Birds in the southern brush and scrublands include quail, cactus wren, and The roadrunner is the state bird. At wildlife refuges along the Río Grande, huge flocks of migratory birds travel the midcontinent flyway on their way north or south. Some of these birds, such as snow geese, whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, and ducks, winter over before returning northward for the summer. Warm water fish in the lower elevations throughout the state include a variety of bass, yellow perch, green sunfish, channel catfish, bluegill, white crappie, walleye, and northern pike.

Human impacts, including agriculture, pollution, encroachment, and the introduction of foreign species, have put many species at risk. By the mid-1990s some 26 species of fish (including the Gila trout), 21 species of amphibians and reptiles (including several species of rattlesnake and the Gila monster), 32 birds (including the bald eagle and Mexican spotted owl), and 15 mammals were listed as threatened or endangered. "New Mexico" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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