Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 | Uncategorized | No Comments
The Smoky Mountains is one of the few remaining places where black bears live in their natural surroundings. Visitors flock from all over to visit Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains in hopes of catching a glimpse of a black bear. According to counts and statistics, there are approximately 1,500 black bears that live in the Smoky Mountain National Park, making that about two black bears per square mile. They reside in densely wooded areas, but visitors occasionally are treated to a bear sighting as they forage for food. Feeding bears or other wildlife is strictly forbidden in the Smoky Mountains.
The Smoky Mountains are knows as the Salamander Capital of the World. With at least 30 species of salamanders, seeing one on your hike to a waterfall is almost a certainty. The Smoky Mountains are home to the largest salamander in North America, the Hellbender. The Little River watershed is the perfect environment for this species, which grow to more than two feet long. They feed off crayfish, aquatic insects, and even small fish.
Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National Park is home to red wolves. Sightings are rare since they almost always run away when humans are around. The best chance of spotting one is at dusk.
Dusk and sunrise are good times to view white-tailed deer. Though timid, deer have learned to tolerate visitors and some people are treated to viewing them as close as ten or twenty yards away as they munch on acorns and green vegetation.
The forest and open fields in Cades Cove and the Smoky Mountains are the perfect environment for both red and gray foxes. The gray foxes are more common, but their fur blends with the background, so spotting one may be a challenge. The red foxes are beautiful and have black legs and a white-tipped tail.
Nocturnal animals, such as raccoons and bobcats, may not be easily visible to visitors, but be assured they make the Smoky Mountains their home. Campers should take notice, raccoons will often steal food or other objects that are left out in the open.
Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in early summer can witness a special light show. The Smoky Mountains are home to 14 species of fireflies, one of which is the only species in North America known for their ability to synchronize their flashing light pattern. Their light patterns are part of the mating display that helps males and females recognize each other. This fascinating display has become such a popular attraction that there is a reservation system for Elkmont firefly viewing.
With more than 2,000 miles of streams, the Smoky Mountains is home to a variety of fish. Trout fishing is a popular past time among visitors who can step out of their downtown Gatlinburg hotel room and step into a stream full of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
When visiting Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains, keep your ears and eyes wide open. You just never know what type of wildlife you’ll see.