America’s national parks were established to preserve our country’s greatest collection of natural, historic, and cultural treasures. The same national parks are today home to many of America’s most iconic wildlife.
Our team at DTN supports wildlife conservation efforts and have has had the good fortune of exploring many of the places these beautiful creatures call home. We’ve compiled a handful of our favorite iconic American wildlife picks and where you can best spot them on your next road trip:
American Bald Eagle
At the top of our list is the bird that adorns our national emblem, currency and official presidential seal. Though eagle populations have faced a steady decline due to hunting, accidental poisoning and habitat destruction, the species has made a significant recovery over the last few decades. In June 2007, The Department of Interior took the American Bald Eagle off the endangered species list. Today, the magnificent bald eagle can be found throughout the continental U.S. and Alaska.
American alligators reside nearly exclusively in freshwater rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes throughout the southeastern United States. These lizard-like reptiles primarily call states like Florida, Georgia and Louisiana their home, but can be found in other swampy regions as well. The gigantic reptiles can exceed 10 feet in length, can reach 1,000 pounds and can live to be more than 50 years old. The species, scientists say, managed to avoid extinction 65 million years ago when their prehistoric contemporaries, the dinosaurs, died off.
The population of California condors has dramatically declined in the 20th century due to poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction. Though its name became nearly synonymous with “endangered species” in the 1990s, the California condor is making a comeback. Despite progress, only a few hundred birds remain in the wild. According to the National Park Service, as of June 2014, there are only 439 condors alive today.
The Florida Manatee is also known as the sea cow, but you won’t hear any mooing from these gentle giants. Manatees are typically found in shallow coastal areas and rivers where they feed on sea grass, mangrove leaves, and algae. As an endangered species, the manatee population remains threatened due to boats, hazardous waste and cold weather, but continue to cruise the canals and waterways of Florida.
They may seem cute and cuddly, but it is best to enjoy the polar bear’s beauty from afar. These furry giants have strong jaws and a craving for mammals—seals are their favorite snack. Polar bears, the largest land-dwelling carnivores on earth, love cold weather, and chill primarily in artic areas where temperatures can plunge to -50º F. In the last few decades, polar bears have gained notoriety as a species detrimentally impacted by the effects of climate change.
What’s your favorite American wildlife? Let us know in the comments below!