The Cordilleran Region, Pacific Coast

The animal life of the northern part of British Columbia is much like that of the Boreal region already described while that of the Dry Belt resembles that of the Prairies. However, there are a considerable number of alpine species recorded while quite a number of species common to the Pacific Northwest but not found east of Rocky Mountains. Among the alpine mammals are the Rocky Mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis), mountain goat (Oreamnos montanus), mountain caribou (Rangifer montanus), the hoary marmot (Monax caligata), and the grizzly bear (Ursus horribilis). In the very dry parts of the Okanagan there is a desert fauna including a pocket gopher (Thomomys fuscus), pocket mouse (Perognathus lordi), western white-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus townsendii), sage grouse (Centrocerus urophasianus), western lark sparrow (Chondestes grammecus strigatus), poor-will (Phalaenoptilis nuttalli), rock wren (Salpincles obsoletus) and rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus).

Pacific Coast

The Pacific coast with its mild humid climate and luxuriant forests is inhabited by still another group of animals. Here are the Sitka deer (Odocoileus columbianus sitkensis), the elk (Cervus c. roosevelti), the black bear and several types of grizzly bear, the northwest wolf (Canis occidentalis gigas), the northwest skunk (Mephitis occidentalis) and the Pacific raccoon (Procyon psora). Some birds of the coastal forest are: Sitka grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus), red-breasted sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber), Oregon junco (Junco oreganus), lutescent warbler (Vermivora celata), varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius) and the russet-backed thrush (Hylocichla ustulata).

Marine mammals include the spotted harbour seal (Phoca richardii), northern sea lion (Eumatopias jubata) and various whales. Most notable among the fish are the salmon, including sockeye (Onocorhynchus nerka), spring or chinook(O, tachawytscha), coho (O. kisutch), pink (O. gorbuscha), chum (O. keta), and steelhead (Salmo gairdneri). The spring salmon sometimes attains a weight of 100 pounds but the others usually run from five to fifteen pounds.

Entering the west coast rivers to spawn they were caught in large numbers to form the chief food of the coast-dwelling Indians. The white man has made them the basis of the most valuable commercial fishery in Canada.

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