Wildlife Policies in the Smoky Mountains

Wildlife in the Smoky Mountains In the national parks, all native animals are completely protected by law. The parks have been established by the people in recognition of their uniqueness and are managed as preserves where present and future generations may enjoy and study remnants of primeval America. Wildlife, being a part of the natural scheme, may be expected to subsist here in the Smokies without human management. While this is generally true, there are problems that require attention ...


Before there was a park, people lived in the Smokies and hunted as they pleased. For some of their descendants, such traditions die hard. Other people travel to the Smokies and violate park boundaries to hunt for commercial and personal gain.

Exotic (non-native) species

Currently the wild hog is unrivaled for its destruction of park ecology. Pets running loose and chasing wildlife are an ongoing problem. There is also growing concern over the inroads of brown and rainbow trout on the native brook trout.

Maintaining natural populations

In nature, plant and animal populations regulate themselves. However, when human impacts reduce numbers of species, the entire system is affected. For example, the removal of a predator such as a wolf causes an unnatural abundance of smaller, plant-eating animals. Plant life is affected, and eventually food supplies are reduced to the point that animals may die.

Publications are available at park visitor centers which cover a broad range of wildlife topics. Titles include The Smoky Mountain Black Bear; Spirit of the Hills and Birds of the Smokies, plus inexpensive checklists to mammals, birds, and reptiles and amphibians.

Our thanks to the National Park Service for this information.

For your safety

  • Do not feed, tease, or approach wildlife
  • Be especially cautious if you encounter wildlife with young

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