WV Energy / Natural Resources

Plants and Animals

wv state parks forests

“Extensive forests. Bountiful rainfall. Rich soil. West Virginia’s diverse landscape is home to a wide array of plants, animals and fungi. Here, you’ll find more than 57 species of amphibians and reptiles, 70 wild mammals, 178 species of fish, nearly 300 species of bird and numerous species of plants and fungi. Step outside and explore West Virginia’s incredible abundance of plants, animals and fungi.”

Explore WV DNR’s “Plants and Animals” Website – Includes Native Species; Conservation; Research  (clicking on the numbered title opens a webpage with more information)


  1. Mammals – Seventy-four species of mammals are currently found in the Mountain State. Some are easily recognizable, such as the white-tailed deer or black bear (West Virginia’s official state animal), but others are more secretive such as the northern flying squirrel, only showing themselves at night or restricting their presence to remote and unique habitats.
  2. Sport Fish – Information on more than three dozen species:  Ecological Description/Identification; Habitat; Conservation Issues; Facts; Similar Species
  3. Freshwater Mussels – Freshwater mussels are aquatic filter feeding animals that are not unlike marine clams in appearance. Mussels are mollusks with a body covered by a hinged shell that protects the mussel throughout its life. Includes:  Freshwater Mussels in West Virginia; History of Mussels in West Virginia; Life Cycle and Natural History; Current Threats; Future of Mussels in West Virginia; Helpful Resources
  4. Big Game – White-Tailed Deer; Black Bears, Wild Turkey; Wild Boar
  5. Birds West Virginia is a wonderful place for wild birds. With more than 170 breeding species and an ever-changing assortment of migrants and winter residents, the state offers unlimited opportunities both to observe and to promote birdlife. Its varied habitats make the Mountain State a hub of biodiversity in the eastern United States. Includes: West Virginia: A Birding Paradise; Get Started Bird Watching; Make Your Property Bird Friendly; How Does WV Help Birds?; Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Amphibians and Reptiles – West Virginia is a state rich with diverse species. It is home to 36 salamander species, 24 snake species, 15 frog and toad species, 14 turtle species, and 6 lizard species. Not only does our state have a large variety of species, it has some very rare and endemic herpetofauna including the Cheat Mountain salamander and the West Virginia spring salamander.  Includes: Amphibians (Frogs and Toads, Salamanders) ; Reptiles (Lizards, Snakes, Turtles) (scroll down the page for this information – click on the “Species Accounts” gray line to view lists.)
  7. Plants and Fungi – Vegetation is important to the environment and wildlife of West Virginia. Vegetation helps filter out pollutants and helps fight against erosion. West Virginia’s extensive, diverse forests and bountiful rainfall make it an ideal location for a wide array of plants and fungi.  Includes:  Fact Sheets: Hardwood; Hemlock; American Yew; Dogwoods; Riverscour Prairies; Red Spruce; Oak Heath; Oak Swamps; High Floodplains Forests and Woodlands — Native Shrubs:  at least 29 species — Also: “Plants Overview” and “Fungi Overview”


  1. Elk Restoration – After more than a 100-year absence from the Mountain State, elk are making a comeback in West Virginia. Now that elk have made a comeback in West Virginia, folks even have the opportunity to see these incredible animals up close in a natural habitat thanks to the Elk Management Tours through the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.  Includes: History of Elk in West Virginia; Book an Elk Tour
  2. Exotic and Invasive Species – Includes: Exotic Species; Invasive Species; Learn More about Invasive Species: Invasive Plants; Top Invasive Plants
  3. Songbird Forest Management Guidelines – Includes links to Songbird Forest Management Guidelines and WV Priority Species Guide
  4. Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species – The Endangered Species Act establishes protections for plants and animals considered to be endangered or threatened (i.e. listed species). West Virginia is a permanent home to 22 federally endangered species (17 animals, four plants) and seven federally threatened species (five animals, two plants). Three additional listed species are considered occasional, or accidental visitors. Of the permanent resident listed species, three are West Virginia endemics, that is, are found only within the state of West Virginia. There are numerous other West Virginia endemic species known to science, and likely many more in our many caves, springs and wildernesses that have yet to be scientifically described. To conserve these species, the WVDNR maintains an active rare, threatened, and endangered species program (WVDNR RTE). . .
  5. Nuisance Wildlife – The presence of wild animals on property is enjoyed and sometimes encouraged by many land and homeowners. When animals cause conflicts with humans in the form of economic, safety and nuisance issues, intervention is often needed and prescribed. Economic issues include any wild animal activities that result in unacceptable monetary loss or expense. Safety issues include such things as direct attacks, disease transmission and collisions. Nuisance issues include unpleasant odors, digging, deposition of droppings and other problems. . .


  1. Scientific Collecting Permit – Scientific Collecting Permits are required to handle or collect any species of wildlife on private or public lands in West Virginia for scientific or educational purposes, or for propagation. For permitting purposes, wildlife is defined as wild mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, and other forms of aquatic life. A permit is also required to collect plants from lands managed by the Division of Natural Resources.
  2. Surveys and Citizen Science – Opportunities are offered for hunters, anglers and the general public to participate in surveys and scientific data collection.
  3. Wildlife Disease – Diseases in wildlife populations range from highly visible but generally insignificant (e.g., cutaneous fibromatosis in White-tailed Deer) to cryptic but extremely concerning for long-term sustainability of populations (e.g., Chronic Wasting Disease in cervids, chytridiomycosis in amphibians). They seldom are the result of a one-cause, one-effect scenario and are often a product of environmental and habitat changes, human activities, unnatural conditions, stress, pathogen changes, and other factors.

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