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Featured Animals in Washington
Washington has a great diversity of animal species. In this section we feature individual species for a variety of reasons. Some are iconic species that people associate with the Pacific Northwest and Washington State: Orcas, Salmon, Northern Spotted Owls. Others are less well-known, but are rare and need conservation attention: Striped Whipsnakes and Oregon Spotted Frogs. And yet others may simply be interesting because of some peculiarity in their life history.
Orca or Killer Whale - The Orca, an Endangered species in Washington, is the largest species of the dolphin family. There are several resident populations living in Puget Sound. Orcas live in a cohesive family group known as a pod which includes a mother Orca and all of her dependent offspring 10 years or younger. Orcas are highly vocal producing a variety of clicks and whistles used for communication and echolocation.
Marbled Murrelets - The Marbled Murrelet is a small seabird that is a member of the auk family. It nests in old-growth and mature forests in the North Pacific. USFWS has listed the Marbled Murrelet as a threatened species in Washington. Threats include loss of nesting habitat due to logging activities and high predation rates due to human disturbances.
Striped Whipsnake - The Striped Whipsnake is a long slender snake that is dark above with alternating light and dark stripes down the length of the body. The only other large striped snakes in Washington are the garter snakes. Little is known about the habitat requirements in Washington. It appears that undisturbed shrub-steppe with a low cover of cheatgrass is a favored area. Striped Whipsnakes are very rare in the state. They are considered critically imperiled.
Oregon Spotted Frog - The Oregon Spotted Frog is a medium to large aquatic frog. It is endemic to the Pacific Northwest (only occurring in that area). This frog is almost entirely aquatic in habit, leaving wetlands only occasionally for short duration. The habitat for Oregon Spotted Frogs must include a shallow emergent wetland component. Loss of this habitat has decreased the range and number of the species. It is considered a State Endangered Species and is classified by USFWS as a Candidate species.
Gray Wolf - The Gray Wolf is the largest wild member of Canidae or Dog family. It is considered an Endangered species in Washington. Historically, wolves were found throughout most of the state, but because of human persecution in the 1930's all but a few were destroyed. In recent years wolf populations have been re-established in surrounding states. As the wolf packs increase and expand their territory, Washington will once again have Gray Wolves. In July of 2008 the first fully confirmed wolf pack in many years was discovered in Okanogan county.