Alberta is the province of Canada. It is part of Western Canada and is one of the three prairie provinces. Alberta is bordered by British Columbia to the west, Saskatchewan to the east, the Northwest Territories to the north, and the U.S. state of Montana to the south. It is one of the only two landlocked provinces in Canada, The eastern part of the province is occupied by the Great Plains, while the western part borders the Rocky Mountains. The province has a predominantly continental climate but experiences quick temperature changes due to air aridity. Seasonal temperature swings are less pronounced in western Alberta due to occasional chinook winds.
The four climatic regions of Alberta are home to many different species of animals. The south and central prairie was the homeland of the American bison, also known as buffalo, with its grasses providing pasture and breeding ground for millions of buffalo. The buffalo population was decimated during early settlement, but since then, buffalo have made a comeback, living on farms and in parks all over Alberta.
Herbivores are found throughout the province. Moose, mule deer, elk, and white-tailed deer are found in the wooded regions, and pronghorn can be found in the prairies of southern Alberta. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats live in the Rocky Mountains. Rabbits, porcupines, skunks, squirrels, and many species of rodents and reptiles live in every corner of the province. Alberta is home to only one venomous snake species, the prairie rattlesnake.
Alberta is home to many large carnivores such as wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, and mountain lions, which are found in the mountains and wooded regions. Smaller carnivores of the canine and feline families include coyotes, red foxes, Canada lynx, and bobcats. Wolverines can also be found in the northwestern areas of the province.
Central and northern Alberta and the region farther north are the nesting ground of many migratory birds. Vast numbers of ducks, geese, swans and pelicans arrive in Alberta every spring and nest on or near one of the hundreds of small lakes that dot northern Alberta. Eagles, hawks, owls, and crows are plentiful, and a huge variety of smaller seed and insect-eating birds can be found. Alberta, like other temperate regions, is home to mosquitoes, flies, wasps, and bees. Rivers and lakes are populated with pike, walleye, whitefish, rainbow, speckled, brown trout, and sturgeon. Native to the province, the bull trout, is the provincial fish and an official symbol of Alberta. Turtles are found in some water bodies in the southern part of the province. Frogs and salamanders are a few of the amphibians that make their homes in Alberta.
Alberta is the only province in Canada—as well as one of the few places in the world—that is free of Norwegian rats. In 2006, Alberta Agriculture reported zero findings of wild rats; the only rat interceptions have been domesticated rats that have been seized from their owners. It is illegal for individual Albertans to own or keep Norwegian rats of any description; the animals can only be kept in the province by zoos, universities and colleges, and recognized research institutions. In 2009, several rats werefound and captured, in small pockets in southern Alberta, putting Alberta's rat-free status in jeopardy. A colony of rats was subsequently found in a landfill near Medicine Hat in 2012 and again in 2014.