• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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Missing from our streams, wetlands, & riparian areas

Dispatches from the Field > Missing species > Missing from streams

Flame chub.

Flame chub.

Artwork by Heather R, Robbinsville High School, North Carolina.

Flame chub (Hemitremia flammea)

  • Status: Missing
  • Last seen in park: 1990
  • Species story: This small, orange-tinged fish only existed in one spot in the entire Little Tennessee River watershed: in Cades Cove springs. While this species is also found in the Cumberlands, it seems to have disappeared from the Great Smoky Mountains.
Horse sugar.

Horse sugar.

Artwork by Storm J, Robbinsville High School, North Carolina.

Horse sugar (Symplocos tinctoria)

  • Status: Missing
  • Last seen in park: 1940s
  • Species story: Horse sugar, a low bush with sweet-tasting leaves, used to grow in Smoky Mountain wetlands. Wetlands, however, have mostly disappeared over the last 200 years, because people drained them to make dry farmland. Today Inventory and Monitoring teams in the park are mapping areas where wetlands once existed, and may find clues about the missing horse sugar.
Spotted skunk.

Spotted skunk.

Artwork by Tyler W, Robbinsville High School, North Carolina.

Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius)

  • Status: Uncommon, and possibly declining
  • Last seen in park: Probably exists in park today
  • Species story: It is hard to find population density estimates for the Eastern spotted skunk in the Southern Appalachians, in part because this small animal hides out in thick rhododendron patches along mountain streams. A 2000 study of spotted skunks in Cherokee National Forest, adjacent to the park, recommended that scientists keep an eye on this species because it was so seldom seen. Resource managers in the Smokies have sighted fewer of these reclusive animals over the last decade and think they may be declining.

Did You Know?

Scientists estimate that 100,000 different species live in the park.

What lives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Although the question sounds simple, it is actually extremely complex. Right now scientists think that we only know about 17 percent of the plants and animals that live in the park, or about 17,000 species of a probable 100,000 different organisms.