Fellow animal lovers, it’s time to geek out. This month The Discovery Channel premieres a new 7-part series, North America, that gives viewers and inside look at the animals and plants of North America.
The Nature Conservancy is excited to partner with Discovery for the launch of this new series. Our organization works across borders to protect lands and waters in North America and beyond, for people and for nature.
The best part of North America? It’s packed with intimate videos and stories about wildlife big and small. Get to know a few of these animals below, and check out some of our favorite animal facts.
Rodents of Unusual Size
Fun Fact: The North American beaver is the continent’s largest rodent, weighing nearly 60 pounds.
It’s true, the beaver has developed a bad reputation among some. They can cause roads to flood with their damming capabilities and they are known to have a taste for farmers’ crops. But as wetlands continue to decline worldwide, the beaver’s ability to maintain the health of these unique ecosystems cannot be understated.
Big and Nosey
Fun Fact: A grizzly bear’s nose is 2,300 times more sensitive than ours. It can smell food from 18 miles away!
The story of grizzly bears in the western United States is one of cautious optimism. By the 1970s, their numbers were low enough to earn them “threatened” status in the lower 48 states. Now their numbers are up to 600 in the Yellowstone area and they just might be taken off the threatened list. “People are finding ways of co-existing with the continent’s largest land predator,” said the Conservancy’s lead scientist, Sanjayan.
Fun Fact: Woodpeckers slam their beaks against wood with a force 1,000 times that of gravity. That’s 20 times more force than a human can survive.
One very special species is the red-cockaded woodpecker, a rare bird that lives only in mature pine forests in the American southeast. The elusive RCW has been forced to the brink of extinction, and was extirpated, or locally extinct, at The Disney Wilderness Preserve in Florida for decades. But we’re working hard to bring them back.
Fun Fact: A red fox hones in on the Earth’s magnetic field to fine-tune its pounce, allowing it to target mice stirring 3 feet beneath the snow.
Unlike its canine relative the wolf, the nocturnal red fox prefers a life of seclusion to one of roaming in packs. It can run as fast as 30 miles an hour!
An American Icon
Here’s one not-so-fun fact: American bison were once hunted to near-extinction. Only 1,000 remained in 1890, down from 30 million bison less than a century earlier.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of the American Bison Society, the species has rebounded, and herds have been built up in preserves, where they live in a semi-wild state. In fact, many bison can be found on Conservancy preserves in the Midwest. A new baby was just born on one of our preserves this spring!
North America airs Mondays at 9pm EST on The Discovery Channel.
[Images: American beaver. Source: Ross Geredien. Bear. Source: The Discovery Channel. Red-cockaded woodpecker. Source: Carlton Ward, Jr. Red fox. Source: Nathan Lovas/TNC. Bison. Source: The Discovery Channel.]