Spring Road Status
During spring, park roads may close due to ice, especially at high elevation where wet roads can freeze as temperatures drop at night. For road status information call (865) 436-1200 ext. 631 or follow updates at http://twitter.com/SmokiesRoadsNPS. More »
Meet the Managers: Wildlife Management
This month, meet the people and projects in Wildlife Management and Science. A great diversity of wildlife lives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Endangered bats flutter through forests at night, and at dusk elk roam through the remote Cataloochee valley. If you're lucky, you might glimpse a bear taking a nap on a tree branch, or an otter slipping into a shady pool. From the streams to the skies, animals here have one thing in common: their well-being depends on good management by the park's wildlife management team.
What is wildlife management?
Ever since the early years of the national park in the 1930s, rangers have been responsible for the health of wildlife within its boundaries. For many years, though, there weren't separate resource management rangers, education rangers, and law enforcement rangers-there were just "park rangers," and these people did it all. Gradually, as park visitation increased, rangers who dealt with wildlife became more specialized: they studied biology and wildlife management in college and graduate school, and became experts in their field.
Today, many of the Smokies' wildlife managers have dedicated their lives to keeping the Smokies' animals healthy and wild. While there are only three permanent, year-round wildlife managers, an additional 4-5 people plus 6 interns come on board during the busiest months: January-August. Managers work long hours, often in the backcountry, searching for invasive hogs, monitoring elk and bear populations, fixing broken cable systems for hanging backpackers' food, mapping habitat for endangered species, and much more.
Did You Know?
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.