Smoky Mountain Wildlife

wildlife smoky mountains

Smoky Mountain Wildlife

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an abundance of Smoky Mountain wildlife and contains some of the largest sections of wilderness in the United States. There is a large variety of animals that call the Smoky Mountains their home. It is estimated that there are 65 species of mammals, 200 varieties of birds, around 67 native species of fish and more than 80 different type of reptiles and amphibians. Among the most popular Smoky Mountain wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains are salamanders, coyotes, deer, black beers, bobcats, and elk.

Probably the most popular and a symbol of the Great Smoky Mountains is the Black Bear. With approximately 2 Black Bears per square mile, the Great Smoky Mountains provides the largest protected habitat for bears in the eastern United States. It is estimated that about 1,500 black bears live in the national park. Primarily vegetarians, Black Bears can usually be found munching on berries, insects, nuts, and various plants.

Black bears are great at adapting to surroundings and show a great variation in habitat types. Often found in forested areas with thick ground vegetation providing both protection and a good food source.

Most black bears hibernate depending on local weather conditions and availability of food during the winter months.

Although you can find Black Bears anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains, the best places to see Black Bears are in open areas. Cades Cove and other openings with big clearings like Cataloochee offer optimal viewing areas for Black Bears and other Smoky Mountain Wildlife.

Other commonly seen animals in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park include the White-tailed deer. White-tailed deer are common throughout the park’s woods and meadows, where they can be found grazing on nutritious foods like grasses, fruits, and acorns. When good food sources dry up they can be found eating they will eat poison ivy or rhododendron.

Deer populations throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park changes quickly. With over-population which often leads to disease and starvation the number of White Tailed Deer fluctuates. Predation by numerous wildlife including coyotes, bears, and bobcats eliminated most threats associated with overpopulation.

With over 200 species of birds reportedly spotted and 120 species nesting in the Smoky Mountains, the park is vital in the re-population of birds to many areas. There are 60 species of birds that live in the national park all year round. Many species of birds stop in the Smokies during migration to rest and forage for food. For Bird watchers it is a true paradise.

Great Places to Bird watch in the Smoky Mountains and the species of bird you might find there include:

Clingmans Dome:

Known as the tallest point in the state of Tennessee and along the entire Appalachian Trail, Clingmans Dome is a great place to view birds that love higher elevations. Some of the species of birds you may find in Clingmans Dome include:

-Common Raven
-Black-capped Chickadee
-Canada Warbler
-Brown Creeper
-Dark-eyed Junco
-Golden-crowned Kinglet
-Northern Saw-whet Owl
-Red-breasted Nuthatch
-Winter Wren

Cades Cove:

Cades Cove is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most popular spot for wildlife viewing. Nestled in the lower elevations of the park Cades Cove is a great place to view these species of bird:

-Wild Turkey
-Pileated Woodpecker
-Orchard Oriole
-Blue Grosbeak
-Ruffed Grouse
-Acadian Flycatcher
-Willow Flycatcher
-Yellow-throated Warbler
-Hooded Warbler

Prior to park establishment in 1934, a number of animals native to the Smoky Mountains were destroyed by man. Hunting, trapping and changing the land led to , changing land uses, and other causes. Some of the species that were destroyed in the Great Smoky Mountains include bison, elk, mountain lion, gray wolf, red wolf, fisher, river otter, Peregrine Falcon, and several species of fish.

The Great Smoky Mountains are a true wildlife paradise and we are very fortunate to be able to visit. It’s important that we as visitors remember that we are guests and follow the guidelines and park rules for the best interest of all wildlife in the park.