Celebrate U.S. flora and fauna during National Wildlife Week, 14-20 March
''Walk, Climb, Run and Leap your way into celebrating National Wildlife Week!'' That's the message from the National Wildlife Foundation. They want Americans to get out and celebrate the amazing wildlife diversity in their country, whether it's panthers in Florida or monk seals in Hawaii.
In 2011, National Wildlife Week is celebrating Wildlife That Move Us - the unique ways that wildlife move and how they move us to protect them. In support of National Wildlife Week, here are my three favourite American species.
I know they look slow and sluggish, but brown bears can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour! The brown bear is probably my favourite U.S. species - kinda dopey looking, but a true survivor. Despite persecution and hunting in many areas, the brown bear clings on and makes the most of any feeding opportunities that come its way. Have a look at the brown bear profile on ARKive to see amazing pictures.
'There are five species of prairie dog in the U.S. and Mexico, but they're not really dogs at all! They're actually podgy-looking, ground dwelling squirrels, and guess what? They live in 'towns'. Not the kind of towns that we inhabit, but enormous colonies that can number millions of individuals. The largest colony found covered 65,000 square kilometres and contained 400 million animals! You've gotta love a plump, sociable squirrel. Despite their once large numbers, the Utah prairie dog is endangered and under threat from illegal poisoning and habitat loss.
Alligator snapping turtle
It's huge, unique and it's known as the 'dinosaur of the turtle world'. The alligator snapping turtle has an intriguing way of catching its prey. It sits on the muddy bottom of a river bed, with its huge jaws wide open. The turtle's dark colouring and coating of algae make it nearly invisible to fish. Unsuspecting fish are enticed closer when the turtle sticks out and wriggles its tongue, which looks just like a little worm. Too close and...SNAP! The turtle has a tasty dinner. I love an ingenious animal, so that's why the alligator snapping turtle is in my top three.
Those are my three favourite U.S. species, but the animals and plants in the USA are incredibly diverse, so there are loads to choose from. Unfortunately, much of the wildlife is facing increasing pressure from habitat loss and over-exploitation. National Wildlife Week is a great opportunity to celebrate America's biodiversity and highlight the unique flora and fauna that the U.S. should be proud of.
Go to the National Wildlife Foundation's website for freebies, games and ways to make a difference to the wildlife in the U.S.