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Mammals of West Virginia

Big Ear Hanging Bats

West Virginia is home to at least 70 different wild mammals. Four of West Virginia's mammals-the Virginia big-eared bat, Indiana bat, West Virginia northern flying squirrel and potentially extirpated eastern cougar-are federally listed as endangered. Several additional species are rare in West Virginia and warrant close monitoring.

Three species of mammals no longer exist in West Virginia: the bison, elk and gray wolf. The last recorded bison in West Virginia was killed near Valley Head, Randolph County in 1825. Elk were reported near the headwaters of the Tygart and Greenbrier rivers as late as 1875, but were gone by 1890. Bounties were paid on wolves in West Virginia through the late 1800s with the last recorded wolf killed in 1900.

The beaver, fisher and river otter were also eradicated, but were reintroduced in the 1930s, 1969 and 1985, respectively. Wild boar were introduced into the state in 1971. Today a population of wild boar exists in Boone, Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming counties.

The black rat (roof rat), Norway rat and house mouse all came to the continental United States with settlers and traders. Dogs, cats and goats that have wandered off or were abandoned have established or feral populations in portions of the state.

Just as human activities have resulted in the decline and extinction of some mammals, these activities also have resulted in increased abundance and range expansion of others. The opossum is more abundant and more widely distributed due to human activities, as are mammals that prefer farm and early successional habitats. The coyote is expanding its range eastward and now occurs throughout the Mountain State.

Mammals of WV Checklist - (PDF format, 237KB)

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