With extinction always a threat to animals, I wanted to find out which animals had gone extinct in the last 100 years in North America.
Here are ten mammals that will never be seen in North America again.
Mexican Grizzly Bear
The Mexican grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bear that have gone extinct. The Mexican grizzly bear is one of the largest mammals in Mexico. The Mexican grizzly bear could grow to lengths up to 6 feet and weighed approximately 800 pounds.
They were mainly found in northern Mexico and preferred the savannah and mountainous regions.
The Mexican grizzly bears were declared extinct in 1982. The decline of this mammal began when many Mexicans ventured into cattle farming. The cattle farmers started expanding their territories and developing settlements. These settlements were established in the range of the Mexican grizzly bears.
The farmers considered these animals a nuisance. The Mexican grizzly bears were also destructive pests to the cattle farmers because they regularly killed their cattle. For this reason, the brown bears were eradicated in large numbers.
The Mexican grizzly bears were trapped, shot dead, and poisoned in large numbers. In the 1930s, this subspecies was extremely rare, and their numbers continued to deteriorate.
Stellers Sea Cow
The Stellers sea cow was the largest mammal in the sea cow family. This animal was named a sea cow because of its habit of grazing in herds. The Stellers sea cow was a gigantic marine mammal.
An adult could grow to lengths reaching ten meters and weigh approximately eleven tonnes. The Stellers sea cow was widespread in the past, inhabiting a wide range along the northern Pacific coast.
The Stellers sea cow had a dark and wrinkled skin resembling a tree’s bark. The head was small, with large upper lips and a toothless mouth. This mammal was a herbivore that fed exclusively on kelp and other aquatic vegetation.
For many years, this animal remained unknown to scientists. This was until the year 1741 when George Steller discovered this species. At this time, their population was already declining at an alarming rate.
By the time the Stellers sea cow was fully described, it had already become extinct. The Stellers sea cow became extinct in 1968, just 27 years after it was first discovered.
The Stellers sea cow was a slow and weak swimmer. For this reason, it was an easy and attractive target for many hunters sailing the ocean. They preferred this animal because of its ample supply of meat. The meat from the Stellers sea cow could also be preserved for longer.
The uncontrolled hunting of the Stellers sea cow led to its rapid decline in numbers and ultimately its extinction.
Caribbean Monk Seal
The Caribbean monk seal is believed to have become extinct in the early 1950s. The final confirmed sighting of this animal was in 1952.
The Caribbean monk seal had a robust body and weighed about seventy to two hundred kilograms. The skin color was brown, with a yellowish underside.
Initially, the Caribbean monk seal was widespread, and its range extended through most of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Caribbean monk seals were hunted to extinction primarily by Spanish explorers who sailed through the seas. The hunters used the monk seals to source oils, fur, hides, and meat.
This animal made it even easier for the hunter to kill it because it was a naturally tame animal. The monk seals were not aggressive and rarely moved away from humans. Therefore, people could approach them at close range to hunt them.
The eastern elk was a victim of human settlements and interference. This animal was once abundant and roamed freely in the eastern regions of North America and Canada. The eastern elk population was not known, but their herds were thought to have been enormous.
Settlers spontaneously thinned the vast numbers of these animals down following their arrival. The settlers not only took over the elk habitat but also hunted it down uncontrollably.
The eastern elk were not very shy of humans. Therefore, when settlers moved into the elk range, the animals remained in their habitats. The herds did not leave their feeding grounds even though people had settled there. This made them quickly targeted and hunted for various reasons.
Some settlers killed elks for meat, others hunted them for sport, and people used their antlers as jewelry and tools. The last sighting of the eastern elk was in 1877, which occurred in Pennsylvania. The entire population had been wiped out by 1880.
The Tule shrew is a small mammal that became extinct before it was fully discovered. Very little is known about this animal as scientists never got the chance to describe it fully while it was still alive. The Tule shrew formally inhabited the salt marsh areas on the western coast of Baja California.
Attempts to rediscover the tule shrew failed, and it was considered extinct. The tule shrew is a mammal that was confined to salt marsh areas. The real estate developments in El Socorro are thought to have primarily contributed to the extinction of the tule shrew.
The Barbados raccoon has a dark gray coat with an ocher tint on its neck and shoulders. In 1996, it was classified as an extinct species by the IUCN. The final sighting of the Barbados raccoon occurred in 1964.
The Barbados raccoon population declined due to habitat loss caused by increased tourism in its habitat.
The Barbados raccoon had a small range, and for this reason, the raccoon population was low. With an increase of people visiting the island for tourism, there was significant destruction to the island’s forests. Pollution caused by the new infrastructure also caused problems to the raccoon habitat.
In 1930, the Newfoundland wolf had already met with the demise of its population. As with some other animals on this list, this was before scientists had even discovered or described it.
Zoologists officially described the Newfoundland wolf in 1937. This species of wolf inhabited Newfoundland Island off the eastern coast of Canada.
The Newfoundland wolf had an almost white coat. This species preferred to feed mainly on caribous and would stalk them for days.
The Newfoundland wolves roamed freely within their range until Europeans and other early settlers arrived. People started hunting them for sport or trophies. The Newfoundland wolf was also hunted because people believed it dangerous to humans.
The Newfoundland wolves would attack livestock when food was scarce, leading the farmers to hunt them.
While uncontrolled hunting may have contributed to the Newfoundland wolf’s decline, other factors are involved. One of them was a critical shortage of prey in their habitat. The caribou population decreased suddenly in the early 1900s. The lack of their natural prey is thought to have been the main contributing factor to the Newfoundland wolf’s demise.
In the 1900s, there were only about 6,000 caribous left. The wolves in Newfoundland struggled to survive and gradually succumbed to disease, old age, and hunger.
The sea mink is one of the mink species that lived on the east coast of North America. This mammal was closely related to the American mink. Some scientists believe the sea mink was a subspecies of the American mink.
The sea mink was later described and considered distinct from its close relative by Daniel Webster. The description occurred in 1903 after this animal had disappeared entirely from its ecosystem.
There was not enough information about the sea mink because it was eradicated quite rapidly, and the scientists of the time never got the chance to analyze it properly. The sea mink is thought to have become extinct in the 1880s, with the last sighting being in 1880 in the Gulf of Maine.
Hunting without proper control was the main contributing factor to the extinction of the sea mink. The fur of the sea mink was in high demand in European markets. The traders who wanted to sell their fur frequently trapped the sea mink.
The Bunkers woodrat is known to have inhabited the Coronado Island off southeast Baja in California.
This woodrat had a liking for the rocky and boulder-covered regions. The Bunkers woodrat may have been extinct for many years or decades. Various specimens were collected by scientists in 1932.
The real reason behind the Bunkers woodrat extinction is a mystery. Depletion and destruction of its food sources are the main causes of its disappearance.
Fishermen who visited the island used ironwood and other vegetation to light fires. Ironwood was among the primary sources of food for the Bunkers woodrat. Predators, such as feral cats, further reduced the population of the Bunkers woodrat.
California Grizzly Bears
The California brown bears are another subspecies of the grizzly bears that have gone extinct. This brown bear was well known for its strength, size, and beauty. In appearance, the California brown bear resembled the bears that inhabit the southern coast of Alaska today.
Before the Spanish settlers arrived in the region in the mid-1700s, more than 10,000 grizzly bears roamed present-day California.
The increase in the number of people settling in California escalated conflicts between humans and bears. Bears often attacked livestock as well as people.
Due to this, they were shot dead or poisoned regularly. The California grizzly bears were hunted for sport and even used in bear and bullfights. The last recorded sighting of the California grizzly bear was in 1924, but it still stands on the State flag.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.