Along with all the great reasons to visit the Great Smoky Mountains are just as many reasons to take care of the species that call them home.  They play a role in a larger food chain and ecosystem. Even the smallest of plants is crucial to maintaining a balanced environment.  Mostly, human interaction with this environment caused these species to suffer.  We owe them the space they need to rebound.  When you visit the Park, remember to pack out everything that you take in, and be especially careful on behalf of the fragile inhabitants.

The color blue denotes endangered species of the Smokies.  These plants and animals’ numbers are dangerously close to extinction.

Unfortunately, it is too late for extirpated species listed in red. They no longer exist in the wild in this particular region, although there are some in captivity and elsewhere.

There is still hope for the species listed in green. Their numbers have dwindled (not as significantly as the endangered or extirpated species). This places them on the Federal Species of Concern list.

Plants:

  • Spreading avens (gerum radiatum)
  • Virgina spiraea (spiraea virginana)
  • Rock gnome lichen (gymnoderma lineare)
  • Fraser fir (abies fraeri)
  • Cain’s reed-bent grass (Calamagrostis cainii)
  • Mountain Bittercress (Cardamine clematitis)
  • Smoky Mountain Mana Grass (Glyceria nubigena)
  • Blue Ridge Catchfly (Silene ovata)
  • Olive Darter (Percina squamata)
  • Tennessee Dace (Phoxinus tennesseensis)

Mammals:

  • Indiana Bat (Myotis Sodalis)
  • Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus)
  • Grey Wolf (Canis lupus)
  • Red Wolf (Canis rufus)
  • Eastern Puma/Cougar (Felis concolor couguar)
  • Eastern Small-footed Bat (Myotis leibii)
  • Water Shrew (Sorex palustris)
  • Appalachian Cottontail (Sylvilagus obscurus)

Amphibians:

  • Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
  • Seepage salamander (Desmognathus aeneus)
  • Red-cheeked Salamander (Eurycea junaluska)

Birds:

  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
  • Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi
  • Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulean)
  • Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
  • Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)

Arachnids:

  • Spruce-fir Moss Spider (Microhexura montivaga)

Fish:

  • Spotfin Chub (Erimonax monachus)
  • Duskytail Darter (Etheostoma percnurum)
  • Smoky Madtom (Noturus baileyi)
  • Yellowfin Madtom (Noturus flavipinnis)

Because these plants and animals may be new to you, bring a photo guide on your hike to help identify them and avoid damage or interference.  After seeing these species and others in their natural habitat, you will learn how beautifully fragile the ecosystem of the Smokies is.  See the importance of preserving it.

If you want to learn more ways you can help national park’s be a cleaner place, check out Leave No Trace.  While we all know you should never leave trash behind, everyone can learn a few things to make the parks a more beautiful place.

Be sure to check out all of our vacation guides for planning your Smoky Mountain getaway.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest area information!

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