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What Is Your State Mammal?

The state mammal of my state is the black bear, and with good reason.  I see black bears around my property every week.  This made me wonder if the other states’ official mammals are as prevalent in their state and why they chose that mammal.

A state mammal is a mammal chosen to represent the state it is from.  Some states do not have official mammals but may have other types of animals such as birds.  A state’s legislature designates the state mammal.

If you want to know the mammal of your state and more information on why they have been chosen, I have done some research and have written this below.

Alabama – Black Bear

The state mammal of Alabama is the black bear.  Although named black, they are not always this color, ranging from light brown to dark brown and black. 

The Selection of the black bear was chosen by eighth-grade students of Turtle Point Science Center in 2005. The project was to help the students see how bills were bought into law. 

The students from the center chose the black bear because it is Alabama’s largest mammal and the animal’s rarity in the state.

On April 12, 2006, Governor Bob Riley, joined by students from Turtle Point and other Escambia County schools, signed Senate Bill No. 76, making the black bear Alabama’s official state mammal.

There are currently believed to be less than 200 black bears in the state.  There are a smaller group of approximately 35 bears in Northeast Alabama.  These can be found near Fort Payne, near Little River Canyon.  

There is a larger group of black bears around Washington and Mobile counties in Southwest Alabama.  This group can run up to 165 bears but is currently around 85 bears.

If you would like to know more about the black bear, I have written a complete guide, which you can find here.

Alaska – Moose

The moose was chosen as the state land mammal of Alaska.  The moose (Alces alces) is the world’s largest member of the deer family, and the Alaskan moose (Alces alces gigas) is the largest of all the moose species.  

The moose was made the official Alaska land mammal when Governor Tony Knowles signed SB 265 into law in 1998. Moose can be a nuisance in Alaska, with residents finding moose eating their crops and wandering the city streets.  

The moose was chosen as an essential source of clothing, food, and tools for Native Americans living in Alaska.

If you would like to know more about the moose, I have written a complete guide, which you can find here.

Arizona – Ringtail Cat

The selection of the Ringtail as the State mammal of Arizona happened in 1986. One hundred and twenty thousand children from around the state voted the ringtail as the state mammal in a statewide contest.

Also known as the ringtail cat, cacomistle, civet cat, and miners cat, the ringtail is a nocturnal mammal with excellent night vision.  They kill their prey with a single bite to the neck after pouncing.  The ringtail feeds on birds, scorpions, snakes, vegetation, and insects.  

There are relatively common in Saguaro National Park but rarely show themselves to visitors.  Seeing a ringtail is a special event.

Arkansas- White-Tailed Deer

The official state mammal of Arkansas is the white-tailed deer. In March 1993, the Seventy-ninth General Assembly of Arkansas approved House Bill 2110, which designated the white-tailed deer as the State of Arkansas’s official mammal.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Jim Guy Tucker.

White-tailed deer were nearly hunted to extinction, so to protect the Arkansas species, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) established the state’s first deer hunting season.

In 1999, the AGFC found that nearly 6,000 jobs directly depended upon hunting in the state.  Hunters annually spent approximately $339 million, much of which was attributable to deer hunting.

California – Grizzly Bear

The California grizzly bear is the official state animal of California.  The grizzly bear is also honored on the state flag.  

The human invasion of the land decreased the number of bears in the state. Grizzlies were hunted and killed until 1922. Grizzly bears no longer live in the state due to extirpation, whilst only black bears remain.

Brown bears eat more than just meat.  If you want to know more then this article I wrote has you covered.

Colorado – Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Colorado has its official state mammal as the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). It was adopted as the official state animal on May 1, 1961, by an act of the General Assembly. 

Bighorn sheep are native to the Rocky Mountains, and it is this reason why they were chosen as the official state mammal.  Bighorn sheep can be found in the rutting season from November to January in the Poudre and Big Thompson canes.  

The larger herd of one hundred sheep is in the upper Poudre Canyon, with the smaller herd of sixty sheep along the US Highway 34 west of Loveland.

Bighorn sheep are synonymous with North America.  Find out where they live here

Connecticut – Sperm Whale

The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the state mammal of Connecticut. Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and were a huge part of the Connecticut whaling industry.  

The sperm whale was selected due to its contribution to its history and because it is an endangered species.

Delaware – Gray Fox

The official State Wildlife mammal of Delaware is the gray fox, chosen in 2010.

The gray fox is indigenous to Delaware and is one of the more primitive North American species, believed to be at least seven to ten million years old. 

Delaware’s protection and preservation of indigenous species led to the consideration of the gray fox as the state’s official wildlife animal. The gray fox was chosen as the animal that represents the history and heritage of the state.

Florida – Florida Panther

The state mammal of Florida is the Florida panther.

A species native to the state helped lead it to be the choice as the official state mammal.  The Florida panther was almost hunted to extinction and is currently listed as endangered.  It has been listed in Florida’s endangered species since 1973.

There are only thought to be 120 – 130 Florida panthers left in the wild.   The best place to spot these would be in the Everglades National Park swamplands and Big Cypress National Preserve.  In 1982 the students of Florida elected the Florida panther as their official state animal.

Georgia – White-Tailed Deer

The state mammal of Georgia is the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), chosen in 2015.

The Department of Natural Resources believes that there are currently over 1.2 million white-tailed deer in Georgia.  Due to the prevalence of white-tailed deer, they can be seen in every county of Georgia.  

The white-tailed mammal issue was raised by a fourth-grader who asked: “Why doesn’t Georgia have a state mammal?” 

This question then led to first graders at Columbus school to choose the white-tailed deer as the representative mammal for Georgia.  

Hawaii – Monk Seal

The Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is the Official mammal of Hawaii and was designated in 2008. It is an endangered species known to native Hawaiians as ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua or “dog that runs in rough water.” 

The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii, and along with the Hawaiian hoary bat, is one of only two mammals endemic to the islands. The Hawaiian monk seal was used as the state symbol to raise awareness for the sea mammal.

If you would like to know what other mammals you can find on the islands of Hawaii, I have written an article. You can find this here.

Idaho – Appaloosa Horse

Although there is no official state mammal, the Appaloosa horse is the State horse for Idaho designated in 1975. 

Regarded as a hardy and tough horse, the mammal is known as a breed of Native American and Spanish horses.  The Appaloosa horse is ubiquitous in Idaho, with a state license plate even showing the breed.

Illinois – White-Tailed Deer

Schoolchildren selected the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as Illinois’ State Animal in 1980.  The deer is native to the state, and Native Americans and early settlers fed on white-tailed deer. They used its meat for food and made clothing out of their skins. 

Due to mass hunting, the white-tailed deer was almost wiped out from most of the state.  Wildlife management measures taken by the Department of Natural Resources increased the deer population, stopping the extinction. 

The deer population in Illinois is now under control following a huge explosion in the deer population due to the state’s hunting program.

Indiana – None

The only creature recognized by Indiana as a state symbol is the northern cardinal. It was officially delegated as the state bird in 1933. 

Male cardinals are usually deep red, while females are mostly brown. Other than Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia has designated the cardinal as their state bird.

Iowa – None

Iowa is the second state on this list that does not have an official state mammal.  The Eastern Goldfinch (also known as the wild canary) is the state bird of Iowa. It is also the state bird of  New Jersey and Washington, called the Eastern Goldfinch and the Willow Goldfinch.

Kansas – Bison

The American bison (Bison bison) was designated as the official state animal by State Legislature in 1955. The bison is on the state flag of Kansas, as well as the official seal.

The bison is also the United States’ national mammal due to its spiritual and cultural connections to Native American tribes.

By the beginning of the 1900s, approximately five hundred bison left in the United States, down from twenty to thirty million.  The Government, realizing the dangers of losing the buffalo, began protection and breeding programs to ensure the species’ continuation.  

Bison roam Kansas in state parks and on private land.  There are some great places to view bison in Kansas.  The largest herd in the state can be seen at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton.  There are other great spots to view others nearby, including Historic Lake Scott State Park, close to Scott City.

Kentucky – Eastern Gray Squirrel

Kentucky also does not have an official state mammal but has an official state wild animal game species (a mammal).  The eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was designated the official state wild animal game species of Kentucky in 1968.  Gray squirrels can be found all over Kentucky, and this is why they were chosen as the official state wild animal.

Louisiana – Black Bear

The black bear (Ursus americanu,) is Louisiana’s official state mammal adopted in 1992. Historically found in Louisiana, Mississippi, East Texas, and Arkansas, the Louisiana black bear has now spread to other parts of Louisiana, mainly along the Mississippi River Valley and the Atchafalaya River Basin. 

The US Endangered Species Act from 1992-2016 classified the black bear as ‘threatened.’ The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced in 2016, the removal of Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) from the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act due to the species’ recovery.  The black bear is now classed as least concern due to its population increase.

Black bear numbers are increasing in Louisiana, with the latest figures estimating there to be between seven hundred to one thousand in the state.  This is an increase in the number of black bears in 2008, where there were an estimated three hundred black bears.

The best places to see the black bear in the state are in St. Mary Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, and by the Tensas River in Madison Parish, Concordia Parish, Tensas Parish, and Avoyelles Parish.  

Maine – Moose

Maine designated the moose as their official state animal in 1979.  Moose can be seen throughout Maine, the only other state except for Alaska where you can see them.

There are approximately fifty to seventy thousand moose in Maine and can be seen in their greatest numbers in the Western lakes and mountains, the Maine Highlands, Aroostook County, and the Kennebec Valley.  

Being crepuscular, the best time to see moose is at dusk and dawn during the breeding season and from mid-May to July.

Maryland – Calico

Maryland doesn’t have an official mammal. However, they have recognized many animals of significance to the state. Maryland designated the calico as the official state cat in 2001. Maryland chose the Chesapeake Bay retriever as the official state dog in 1964. 

Maryland also named the thoroughbred as the official state horse in 2003. All thoroughbred horses trace their lineage to three stallions.  These were brought to Great Britain from the Middle East over three-hundred years ago. 

Massachusetts – Right Whale

The right whale (Eubabalena Glacialis) was adopted as the State Marine mammal of Massachusetts in March 1980. Whalers chose the naming of the whale in Massachusetts.  They believed this to be “the right whale to hunt.”

Because of hunting and several other causes, these whales are classed as endangered and nearing extinction.

In recent years, researchers have spotted a few right whale calfs off the coast of Massachusetts.  The right whale was chosen due to the significance of the whaling industry in the state.

If you want information on why whales migrate, you will find this article that I wrote interesting.

Michigan – White-Tailed Deer

Michigan designated the white-tailed deer as the official state game animal in 1997, largely due to the significance of the white-tailed deer to the Native Americans.  Native Americans and settlers would rely on the white-tailed deer for its skin and food.

The deer was considered for state mammal position because of Zeeland fourth-graders who campaigned to include them among Michigan’s official state symbols.

Minnesota – None

The state doesn’t recognize any animal or mammal as part of their state symbol. 

They have put legislation forward eight times for the white-tailed deer to be the state mammal and six times for the state mammal to be chosen as the Eastern timber wolf.  The black bear has also been put forward, as has the thirteen-lined ground squirrel.

Minnesota has adopted some other creatures as part of their state symbols.  The common loon is the official state bird of Minnesota, while the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is proposed as the official state reptile of Minnesota. Minnesota also adopted the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) as the official state butterfly in 2000.

Mississippi – White-Tailed Deer

Mississippi designated the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as the official state land mammal in 1974 and Mississippi’s state water mammal, the bottlenose dolphin. In 1997 the red fox was also recognized as a mammal symbol of Mississippi. 

The bottlenose dolphin can be seen along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The red fox can be found throughout the state, as can the white-tailed deer. All of these animals were chosen due to the quantities of the species in the state.

Missouri – Mule

Missouri designated the Missouri mule as the official state animal in 1995.  Mules became popular with farmers after they were introduced to Missouri in the 1820s.  The mule is an integral part of the state because people relied on them to assist them in farmwork. 

Missouri mules played a huge role in pulling the pioneer wagons of the 19th century.  During World War One and World War Two, they also played an important role in moving troops and supplies.

The importance of the mule for the state also can be related to the production of mules. For decades Missouri was the nation’s primary mule producer, and it is these reasons why the mule is the state mammal of Missouri.

Montana – Grizzly Bear

Montana chose the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) as the official mammal of the state.  Montana is the only one of the lower forty-eight states to have a grizzly population, making the animal unique to Montana. 

The grizzly bear was chosen to represent Montana as they share the same characteristics.  The grizzly bear has size, strength, and beauty,  attributes that Montana shares.

Grizzly bears in Montana have historical significance as well, with Lewis and Clark making numerous references to grizzly bear spottings in their journals.

Nebraska – White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was designated the Nebraska state mammal in 1981. 

The white-tailed deer is the state symbol of eleven states.  These include Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

White-tailed deer populations are stable in Nebraska, with approximately 450,000 in the wild.  The white-tailed deer can be seen all over the state.

Nevada – Desert Bighorn Sheep

Nevada’s state mammal, the desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni), has adapted especially well to the mountainous terrain.  The bighorn sheep was designated the official state animal of Nevada in 1973.  Nevada’s herd is as large as nine thousand sheep, mostly in the South of the state.

In Nevada, one of the best times of year to see the bighorn herds are from April to October.  They come down from the mountains to the lake in Hemmenway Valley Park in Boulder City.  They can be seen at the lake every day from the middle of the morning to the late afternoon.

New Hampshire – White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer was named the state animal of New Hampshire in 1983. The deer is common to most of North America and has been for a long time.  

When the first Europeans settled in the state, there was a large supply of white-tailed deer.  The deer provided important resources to the settlers, with clothing coming from their skins and tools made from their antlers.  The historical value and the fact that vast amounts of white-tailed deer in New Hampshire made the pick of them state mammal easy. 

There are approximately one hundred thousand white-tailed deer in New Hampshire.  These can be seen in large herds in the southern counties of Cheshire, Hillsborough, and Rockingham.  They can also be found grazing in Grafton county along the Connecticut River Valley.  

New Jersey – Horse

The horse (Equus caballus) was adopted as the official state mammal after Governor Byrne signed the bill.  

The reason was summed up by Governor Byrne when he said, “The founding fathers of our state thought so highly of the horse that they included it in our state seal. Today there are 4,654 horse farms in New Jersey, of which 888 raise racing horses. The Horse industry contributes to the preservation of green acres at a time when great demands are being made for the preservation of our land”.

The state is well known as horse country, with the headquarters of the US equestrian team being in New Jersey.

Students again chose the state mammal choice, this time of Our Lady of Victories School in Harrington Park, one a fifth-grader, one in the eighth grade.  The horse represents strength and power and is shown in a prominent position on the official state seal.

New Mexico – Black Bear

The black bear was designated the official state animal of New Mexico in 1963. It is also the state mammal of Alabama, Louisiana, and West Virginia. 

The black bear has a lot of symbolism in New Mexico.  The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has taken a black bear’s head as their symbol.  The US Forest Service has used a character called Smokey Bear since 1944 as their mascot, campaigning to prevent wildfires. 

There are approximately five to six thousand black bears in New Mexico, making them ideal for state mammal.

New York – Beaver

Beaver couple

The beaver (Castor canadensis) became the official state mammal of New York in 1975.

There was outrage from Oregon over New York’s choice of mammal.  Oregon had named the beaver as their state mammal in 1969, six years prior.  Governor Bob Straub said, “We were there first. They should find their own animal and keep off our territory.” Straub said the beaver, which lives in and around rivers and streams, is much more suited to Oregon than New York because of the heavy rainfall in Oregon.”

House Republican leader Roger Martin stated the New Yorkers “certainly aren’t very original,” and the Evening Observer telling readers that as New York has many muskrats in the mountains, they should adopt the muskrat.

Beavers can be found over most New York State, although they have not been seen on Long Island.  The current population is thought to be up to seventy thousand.

North Carolina – Eastern Gray Squirrel

The Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was designated the official state mammal of North Carolina in 1969. The gray squirrel is common in most areas of North Carolina. There are several reasons why the gray squirrel was chosen for the position of state mammal.  

Although small, the gray squirrel provided an important food source for the first settlers of North Carolina.  They also played an essential food source in the civil war.  Gray squirrels are found in every county of the state.  

The hunting of gray squirrels provided vital training to the citizens who had just become soldiers, fighting in the American Revolution and the war of 1812.

A survey of school children was held to determine what the state mammal should be.  The gray squirrel won as it was seen to be courageous and thrifty.

North Dakota – Nokota Horse

The state symbol of North Dakota is the Nokota horse.  The war ponies of Sitting Bull are believed to be the ancestors of the current Nokota horses.  In 1884 a ranch near Medora purchase horses confiscated from Sitting Bull.  

Nokota horses as a breed developed from the horses of Native Americans mixed with horses from Spain, harness horses, and thoroughbreds.  

The National Park Service keeps the numbers between seventy and one hundred and ten horses.  Although this may not seem a lot, there were estimated to be less than one thousand in the world in 2006.

Ohio – White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer is Ohio’s most popular big-game mammal and due to this was selected as the official state mammal.  

White-tailed deer have been in Ohio since the last ice age.  They survived by living in the southeastern counties in Ohio, where it was thought there were no glaciers to be found.

The white-tailed deer has played an essential role throughout history.  From the prehistoric Native American cultures to the early European settlers, the white-tailed deer have been used for food, clothing, and tools.

There are currently an estimated seven hundred thousand white-tailed deer in the state, growing from approximately seventeen thousand deer in 1970.

Oklahoma – Bison

Oklahoma designated the bison as the official state animal in 1972. On May 9, 2016, the bison was designated the official mammal symbol of the United States.

In adopting the bison as the official state mammal, they stated, “The America buffalo or bison is widely and well known as the North American mammal of great stature and great strength which the early explorers of our continent found in abundance on our Great Plains.”  

The senate resolution goes on to read, “The American bison or buffalo has come to be a symbol both of the courage and perseverance that were necessary to tame the West and of man’s responsibility to protect and preserve his natural environment.” 

It goes on to state, “The magnificent animal was native to both the grasslands and woodlands of what is now Oklahoma and was significant in the cultures and ceremonies of many of the Indian tribes who lived in Oklahoma and have passed along their heritage to modern-day Oklahomans.”

It then states, “The American buffalo or bison now is preserved and protected in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and in other public and private areas of the State where continuing efforts are made to develop the husbandry of this greatest of the native grazing bovines.”

With such a glowing review of the American bison, it is no wonder that Oklahoma (and other states) chose it as their state mammal.

The bison is a fantastic animal. You can read more about them in my complete guide, which you can find here.

Oregon – Beaver

Beaver on a dam

Oregon designated the beaver (Castor canadensis) as the official state animal in 1969.  The beaver is the largest rodent in Oregon. 

The state flag has the image of the beaver on the reverse.  Beavers were a huge part of life in the country, with a huge fur trade.  People also depended heavily on them for their meat.

The state recognized the beaver as its most important animal because of its relevance in people’s lives and the history of the species in the state. The state even got the nickname ‘The Beaver State’ because of the trade of beaver fur.

Pennsylvania – White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer is an animal that has a huge population in Pennsylvania.  There are approximately 1.5 million deer in Pennsylvania,  found in abundance in the wooded areas.  The White-tailed deer have played an integral part in solving the survival of the early settlers and the Native American population. 

The “whitetail,” as it is affectionately referred to, has some great characteristics that made it a great choice as the state mammal of Pennsylvania.  

The white-tailed deer is known for its endurance, intelligence, and character. These reasons are why the whitetail-deer was selected and adopted as the official state animal of Pennsylvania. 

Rhode Island – Harbor Seal

Rhode Island does not have a state mammal but chose the harbor seal as the official state marine mammal in 2016.  In typical Rhode Island fashion, Governor Raimondo, who signed the legislation, said he was “Happy to ‘seal’ the deal today.”  

The seal was chosen by the Ocean Community and North Kingstown Chambers of Commerce, Roger Williams Park Zoo, and Save the Bay.  

The harbor seal is prevalent in New England, with up to one hundred thousand seals.  If you want to see harbor seals in Rhode Island, they can be seen in Rhode Island Sound during the winter months.  In the six months of winter, they can be found in particular in Narragansett Bay

South Carolina – White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is South Carolina’s State Animal. They are plentiful in South Carolina State, and in 1972 the legislature named them the official state animal. 

They can be seen year-round in the woods of South Carolina.  Lexington County is an excellent place to spot them as is Oconee County.  Aiken County is also a great place as is Orangeburg County with huge deer populations all year round.

South Dakota – Coyote

South Dakota is the only state to have chosen the coyote as their state mammal.  The coyote was chosen in 1949.   In the past, the name coyote was applied to the people of South Dakota.  

The coyote was chosen due to its ability to adapt to its environment.  The coyote can change its diet, social structure, habitat, and breeding habits to adapt to its surroundings.  

Since the 1980s, the coyote population has exploded in South Dakota.  Before the 1980s the coyote was generally only found in the counties along the Missouri River and the West of South Dakota.  

Since then, there is an estimated population of seventy-five thousand coyotes.  Although coyotes are sighted more frequently in urban areas, they prefer living in remote areas away from humans.

The coyote is the most dominant predator in South Dakota, with the wolf almost being hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.

Tennessee – Raccoon

The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is the official mammal of the State of Tennessee. The raccoon can be found in great abundance throughout the entire State of Tennessee.  

The raccoon is considered to be one of the most important fur-bearing animals and is held in high esteem as one of the most valuable game animals in the State of Tennessee. 

The raccoon hat has been worn both in the Halls of Congress and on the Frontier, with an estimated one million raccoons killed for their fur during the 1800s.  

Texas – Longhorn, Armadillo, Mexican Free-tailed Bat

Everything is bigger in Texas, so the state decided that they would have three official state mammals.  These include the longhorn, the armadillo, and the Mexican free-tailed bat.  

The longhorn was a symbol of the cattle drives in the late mid to late 1800s.  There were an estimated ten million longhorns herded from Texas to the midwest and western states.  They were almost bred to extinction, but some breeders managed to save the species.  

Ranches soon discovered how well-adapted the cattle are and are now a huge part of cattle ranching in Texas.

The longhorn is seen as a symbol of Texas with the University of Texas football club named Texas Longhorns.  

The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) was designated as the official state small mammal at the same time in 1995.  The nine-banded armadillo was chosen, along with the longhorn, due to its “many remarkable and unique traits.”  

The House Concurrent Resolution goes on to say that “These traits parallel the attributes that distinguish a true Texan, such as a deep respect and need for the land, the ability to change and adapt, and a fierce undying love for freedom.”

The Mexican free-tailed bat’s choice is due to Texas having some of the largest bat colonies on Earth.  Bracken Cave, outside of San Antonio in Southern Comal County, has an estimated twenty million bats in the cave from March to October.  This a fantastic spot if you want to see a huge flock of bats.

The state mammal choice was down to a statewide mock election in which hundreds of elementary students chose what they wanted the state mammal to be.

Utah – Rocky Mountain Elk

The Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis) became the official state animal of Utah in 1971. 

Called ‘wapiti’ by the Shawnee Indians, elk have had a long relationship with Native Americans.  They used the elk for its meat and hide, but once the early settlers arrived, the elk was killed not just for food and leather but also for sport. 

By the 1800s, the extirpation of the elk occurred in the eastern part of the country.  In the West, the numbers reduced drastically. 

In the early 1900’s naturalists, hunters, and many others began lobbying for regulated hunting seasons, national wildlife refuges, and national parks and forests, which has assured the elk’s survival in Utah and other states.

Vermont – Morgan Horse

The Morgan horse (Equus cabullus morganensis) is the state mammal of Vermont as chosen in 1961. The Morgan breed is a horse breed native to Vermont.  

The Morgan horse is a descendant of a stallion called Figure; a name later changed to Justin Morgan after the horses’ best-known owner. Every registered Morgan horse can be traced back to the original stallion.  

In Middlebury, in 1907, a horse farm was established to improving the Morgan breed.  This is now dealt with by the University of Vermont.

The Morgan horse has always been associated with Vermont and was the natural choice for state mammal.

Virginia – Virginia Big-eared Bat

The endangered Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) was designated the official state bat of Virginia in 2005, but Virginia does not have an official state mammal.

The bat was chosen to help educate the state’s residents on caves and the creatures that inhabit them.

There are currently sixteen species of bats in Virginia, with the big-eared bat classed as endangered.  The big-eared bat can be found in three Tazewell County caves during the summer.  

Washington – Killer Whale

Due to the persuasion of second-graders from Crescent Harbor Elementary School in Oak Harbor, Washington, the orca whale (Orcinus orca) was designated the official state marine mammal in 2005.

This choice of the orca whale was intended to help protect the marine habitat in Washington.  It was also chosen to promote awareness of the orca in the state. 

There are regular pods of orcas that migrate annually through Puget Sound, and Washington state is a great place to watch them.

The best place to see orcas in Washington is in the corridor along the western edge of the San Juan Islands.    

The orca is one of the largest whales in North America. If you would like to find out the other nine in the top ten, I have written an article here.

West Virginia – Black Bear

Black bear

The state Division of Natural Resources conducted a poll to elect a state animal symbol for West Virginia in 1954-55. The students, teachers, and athletes of West Virginia chose the black bear as the animal symbol for their state. The legislature officially adopted the black bear as the state animal of West Virginia on March 23, 1973.

Black bears can be seen in all fifty-five counties in West Virginia. 

Wisconsin – Badger

Wisconsin has the nickname, the badger state, and the badger is the official state mammal.  Living up to their name, you can find the beaver on the state flag, the state seal, and the official coat of arms.  

During the mining years, miners would live in mine shafts that had been abandoned.  This reminded people of the badgers, hence the nickname of the badger state. The badger is featured on Wisconsin’s coat of arms, state seal, and state flag and is also the official state animal. 

Badgers live throughout Wisconsin and are hard to spot.  This is due to the animals staying in their dens during the day and hunting at night.

Again, students’ choice was made by students, who realized in 1957 that the badger had not been given the official title.

Wyoming – Bison

Wyoming designated the American bison as their official state mammal in 1985.  The American bison (Bison bison) is an integral part of American history and can be found all over Wyoming.  

Bison can be found in some of Wyoming’s most famous national parks including Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, the Bighorn Mountains, Medicine Bow National Forest, and Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.