WV Wildlife: Wetlands & Wildlife Diversity

The sun sets on Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area in Cabell County. (WCHS/WVAH)

You may not think of them much here in our region of the world.

But wetlands—although not as widespread here in West Virginia--do play an important role with our wildlife.

At Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area, located next to the Ohio River where Cabell and Mason counties meet, this importance is clearly visible and even audible.

This area is simply teeming with life.

Art Shomo, Public Information Specialist with our West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says water is the reason.

“Water is the source of life. I mean, you can go longer without food than you can without water—and that pretty much applies to all animals, too, and so yes—these are havens for wildlife. Whether it’s bird life, mammal life, certainly amphibians, reptiles—so really a whole variety of wildlife you can find here”, said Shomo.

Wetlands also help some when it comes to one of the bigger problems we sometimes face here in our Appalachian Mountains—flooding.

“They act as a sponge to soak up the excess water, and not only that—it takes a while for the sponge to dry out, so there’s still some water in that wetland for wildlife needs”, said Shomo.

These swampy areas aren’t just found in the more humid lower elevations, either. High altitude wetlands can even be found at Cranberry Glades in Pocahontas County and Cranesville Swamp in Preston County, both of which have boardwalks—giving you a close-up view of the unique plant and animal life that call West Virginia home.

“They (wetlands) kind of serve as a sieve, or a filter—and filter out the impurities that are in the water. They provide food for a lot of the species of wildlife that are out here", said Shomo.

This is a great time of the year to visit these wetlands, too, as several different species of animals become more active. If you go, Shomo says you may want to bring a pair of boots or an extra pair of shoes--just to be safe.

"Spring-time--of course, pretty much for most animals--is a time of awakening and birth of their young. A lot of the birds are calling, and you'll certainly see some birds that you wouldn't see in your backyard".

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