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

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

White-tailed deer

A white-tailed deer doe and fawn in the tall grass in Cades Cove

A doe and her fawn rest in the tall, native grasses of Cades Cove. The coat of white-tailed deer fawns is marked with white spots to provide camouflage from predators.

Kenneth Fehrenbach photo

White-tailed deer live throughout the Smokies, but are most commonly seen in areas with open fields such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley.

Deer living in the southern Appalachians give birth in late June. Newborn fawns have no defense beyond camouflage. Many are lost to predation during their first few days. By their second spring, males begin to grow antlers. They fully develop in August, and in September, the bucks fight for mating rights. Mating occurs in November. The antlers fall off by mid-winter.

Deer browse for nutritious foods. The diversity of plants growing in the park provide excellent food sources. When favored foods disappear, deer switch to more common, less nutritious plants. If nothing else is available, they will eat poison ivy or rhododendron. Acorns and nuts are important fall foods.

Deer populations can change quickly. Local over-population leads to widespread disease and starvation. Predation by coyotes, bears, and bobcats help reduce threats associated with overpopulation.

Every year park animals must be destroyed because of mistakes humans make. Learn how to protect park wildlife.

Did You Know?

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001.

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls. More...