Surrounded by urban areas, Cuyahoga Valley National Park's 33,000 acres contain forest, field, river, and wetland habitats that offer food, water, shelter, and open space to wild animals. The park's fragmented configuration and land use history have a strong effect on the types of wildlife found here.
The recovery of the lower Cuyahoga River over the past several decades is not only evident in the improvement in the aquatic assemblages that inhabit the river water, but in the terrestrial wildlife associated with the riparian habitat of the river corridor. Efforts to improve water quality and preserve wetlands have transformed a once heavily polluted river into an attractive place for wildlife. Read more in our Cuyahoga River Recovers site bulletin.
The Cuyahoga River Valley is a refuge for a variety of wildlife species including a number of rare and endangered species of animals.
Since 2007, the rebounding fish populations have created an ideal place for bald eagles to feed and nest successfully. Since 2008, a pair of state threatened peregrine falcons have nested beneath bridges high above the river. The spotted turtle, a state threatened species, has been recorded in the lower Cuyahoga along with the Blanding's turtle, a state listed species of concern. The Federally listed endangered Indiana bat, a tree roosting bat dependent on stream corridors and riparian areas that provide foraging sites, was recorded for the first time in 2002. CVNP's bat population is threatened today by the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease of cave-hibernating bats caused by a fungus, Geomyces destructans. Visit the NPS White-nose syndrome website for current information on the spreading of this disease to bat populations across America.
Read more about CVNP's threatened and endangered species.
Numerous wildlife species-birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish populations-depend upon the river's habitat for shelter, food resources, nesting, and breeding grounds.
The success of several inland nesting colonies of great blue herons in the lower Cuyahoga river valley is a reflection of favorable habitat created by an abundant beaver population, along with protection of the valley by local land management agencies, watershed organizations and individuals.
River otters, animals that prefer unpolluted waters with an abundance of slow moving fish have found a home at the Beaver Marsh along the towpath across from Howe Meadow.
Abundant wildlife populations such as deer, coyote, muskrat, mink, and raccoon that use multiple habitat types also use the riparian area of the river for cover, water and food resources.
The use of the river and its riparian habitat by a diversity of wildlife species including threatened and endangered and sensitive species is a direct result of improvement in water quality. Read more in our Watership Stewardship site bulletin.