Ralph's GSMNP Vacation Info Site

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Threaten Species
Red Wolf
Red Wolf
River Otter
River Otter

Animal Reintroductin Projects

One of the goals of the National Park Service is to maintain and preserve existing wildlife. This goal includes attempting to reintroduce wildlife to areas where numbers are low or non-existent.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has had reintroduction projects with River Otters, Red Wolves and American Elk. The Peregrine Falcon, which has not been seen in the Smokies since 1942, has made a recent return without having to be reintroduced.

The River Otter disappeared because of over trapping. They were reintroduced in Abrams Creek, Little River and Hazel Creek between 1986 and 1988. In 1992 additional releases were made in Cataloochee Creek, Little River and Hazel Creek. All total, there were about 50 released in Tennessee and 50 in North Carolina. So when you are cooling off your aching feet in the creeks, look around you just might get a glimpse of a River Otter.

The Red Wolf is one of the most endangered mammals. The reintroduction of the Red Wolf to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a joint project with the Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The reason the National Park was selected was because it is one of the few areas large and wild enough to support the project. The first release was in 1991 in Cades Cove. Because of the fact that the Red Wolf has not migrated past the Cades Cove area the project has been discontinued.

The experimental release of American Elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in February 2001 with the importation of 25 elk. The plan was to import 25 - 30 animals annually and to monitor them for a period of 5 years. Biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have announced their decision not to import any additional elk in 2003. There are almost 60 already roaming the Smokies. Their decision is based upon a combination of good survival and low dispersal by the previously released animals and a lack of available elk from the Park's preferred source herd in Canada.

Elks were released into the Cataloochee Valley area of Haywood County, NC. The best times to view elk are usually early morning and late evening.

Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces elk, is illegal in the park. Violation of this federal regulation can result in fines and arrest.

Smokies Opens Park Streams to Brook Trout Fishing: Because of the results of recent fisheries research and the success of the park's brook trout restoration effort, in 2006 park management opened brook trout fishing and harvest park-wide for the first time since 1976. The results of a recent three-year brook trout fishing study indicate there was no decline in adult brook trout density or reproductive potential in any of the eight streams opened to fishing during the experimental period compared to eight streams closed to fishing during the same time period