In an area of increasing urbanization, the Blue Ridge Parkway provides wildlife with a 469-mile long refuge. From mountaintops to valley bottoms, small seeps to large rivers, and agricultural fields to old growth forests, the parkway offers a wide range of habitats for a wide range of animal species. As animals continue to lose their habitats on adjoining lands, they can still be found in the forests and streams along the parkway.
More than fifty species of mammals, ranging in size from black bears and elk down to flying squirrels and shrews, have been found on the parkway. Over 150 types of birds nest on parkway lands and dozens of others rest here on their spring and fall migrations. The list goes on with about 40 species each of amphibians and reptiles, down to an untold number of invertebrates.
Several animals that were extirpated from the Southern Appalachians are now making a comeback. Beavers, elk, peregrine falcons, and river otters, not long ago gone from the Southern Appalachians can now be found along the parkway. Others that were reduced to low numbers, such as wild turkeys and black bears, are making a strong comeback. Together these animals help to restore the biological health of the Blue Ridge Parkway.