Native Animals of Idaho
The forests of Idaho are home to hundreds of wildlife species, with animals ranging from the majestic bald eagle to the tiny pygmy shrews and calliope hummingbirds. There are also threatened and endangered species in Idaho, such as the woodland caribou, the grizzly bear, the Canada lynx and the gray wolf.
Among the reptiles of Idaho we can find the boreal toad and the Coeur d'Alene salamander, while birds that thrive in the region include the common loon, harlequin duck, black-backed woodpeckers, flammulated owls and peregrine falcons. The state's most iconic mammals include the Townsend big-eared bat, the Northern bog lemming, the wolverine and the fisher.
The state animals of Idaho are the Appaloosa horse, the mountain bluebird, the cutthroat trout, the monarch butterfly and the peregrine falcon. In this AnimalWised article we will go over some of the most interesting native animals of Idaho, the Gem State.
The Grizzly Bear
The grizzly or North American brown bear (Ursus arctos ssp.) is a subspecies of the brown bear, which has the largest range and distribution of all bears. However, the grizzly variety is considered threatened in the continental United States, including in Idaho, where it experiences loss of habitat and threats from hunters and poachers.
While the grizzly bear used to occupy North America west of the Great Plains, its range has now shrunk to the northern part of the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range. This amounts to less than 2% of the land it historically inhabited.
In Idaho, grizzly bears can be found near the eastern and northeastern borders, the recovery areas of Cabinet Yaak, Selkirk and Selway-Bitterroot, and the Yellowstone National Park, which is the home of the majority of bears in Idaho. They have also been sighted in the Mt. Rainier National Park. Scientists believe only 100 grizzlies live in Idaho.
Here you can learn all about escaping from a bear attack.
The Woodland Caribou
This native animal of Idaho is considered one of the most threatened animals in all the US. Threats to this species include habitat encroachment and hunters. It is primarily found in forested mountainous areas and dense fir and spruce growing regions.
This caribou or reindeer subspecies can be found across northern Canada; it only reaches the US in some northernmost areas of Idaho and Washington. In Selkirk, the woodland caribou population is estimated at less than 100 individuals. However, it is a good progress since 1987, when the WWF estimated the population to be around 28 individuals.
The fisher or pekan (Pekania pennanti) were almost eliminated from their native range in the early 20th Century, and they were considered endangered in Idaho. Fishers are still threatened by habitat fragmentation and falling breeding rates, and they are protected from hunting, but thanks to reintroduction efforts - especially in sites of northern Idaho - their numbers have been gradually rising since the 1960s.
Fishers are stocky, brown-coated mustelids - like ferrets and weasels - with a thick tail that inhabit the forested areas of North America below 1,800 m (5,900 ft). In the regions of Washington and Idaho, the fisher is one of the rarest carnivorous animals.
It nests in rotting trees or logs and feeds on shrews, hares, muskets, beavers, porcupines and squirrels as well as birds, fruits, and carrion; unlike what you may believe, they do not eat fish.
The North American Lynx
The Canada or North American lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a native animal of Idaho, where it is considered threatened due to loss of habitat and trapping. Along with the wolverine, the fisher and the marten, lynxes serve as useful barometers of ecological health. In Idaho, the lynx can be found in the north.
Lynxes are felids, and they look like fluffy wild cats. Their thick coat is pale brown or gray, with a black tip on its tail, black tufted ears and bushy paws. While they are moderately large, at 55 cm (22 in) tall at the withers and 18 kg (40 lb) heavy, Canada lynxes are smaller than other lynx species.
While it is rarer there, the Canada lynx is also one of the native animals of Utah.
The Pygmy Rabbit
The pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) is a native species of Idaho that has become a matter of concern among wildlife conservationists in the state, as it is quite rare there. Predators such as badgers, coyotes, weasels and raptors, disease, and habitat loss have lowered its numbers.
It is the smallest of all rabbits and hares, measuring just 24 to 29 cm (9.5 to 11.5 in) long and weighing less than 500 g (1 lb): the pygmy rabbit fits in the hand! It has a brown or slate gray coloring, with short, white-trimmed ears and a tiny tail. Pygmy rabbits dig their own burrows and are herbivorous animals, relying on food such as sagebrush.
The Gray Wolf
The gray, western or timber wolf (Canis lupus) can be found in the northernmost regions of North America, especially in Canada and Alaska. However, there are some populations in the contiguous United States, including Idaho, where it is a native animal.
There are more than 20 gray wolf packs in Idaho, with more than 200 individuals in total. However, the beautiful wolf faces loss of habitat, hunting, and ranchers defending livestock to the point that it has become a globally recognized wildlife symbol. It is protected under the Endangered Species Act in some states, and their population is growing as a result of conservation efforts.
Gray wolves are famous for being extremely faithful to their mates and devoted parents to their cubs, to the point that they can adopt orphaned wolves. Here you can learn more about their hunting habits and diet.
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