Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern Gray Squirrel

Alicia Lafever

*** Please remember that hunting and trapping are not permitted in the park.***

Mammals found in the park are fairly typical for this region and include skunk, groundhog, squirrel, several varieties of vole and mole, eastern cottontail rabbit, opossum, raccoon, white-tailed deer, and red fox. Recent sightings of bobcat, beaver, mink, and black bear indicate that populations of these mammals have returned to the area.

In 2001, a small mammal survey was done for the park. This survey by the Smithsonian Institute, confirmed the presence of 12 small mammals within the park. This survey also revealed a new species to the park, a coyote! The coyote was photographed using a motion sensitive camera set up by the researchers. Coyotes had never before been documented at Catoctin Mountain Park. Since then, several other coyote observations have been made indicating this species has in fact become established in this section of Maryland.

Historical records indicate that mammals such as bison, elk, gray wolf, eastern cougar, porcupine, and fisher could at one time be found in the area. However, these animals have all since been extirpated from the park as well as much of the surrounding area.


White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are the most abundant large animals in the park. They can weigh between 50-300 lbs. However, deer in the park are normally about 100 lbs. Males, also called bucks, are about 20 percent larger than females, which are called does.Males grow antlers which fall off each winter and grow back in the summer. Bucks fight over territory in the fall by using their antlers.Their fur is usually grayish brown in winter and reddish brown in summer. White-tailed deer make their beds in grass, leaves, or snow. When startled, they may snort and raise their tails as "white flags" as they bound away. The white-tailed deer are herbivores and feed on leaves, twigs, nuts, berries and fungi. They also graze on grass or crops such as corn and soybeans. They usually move in small herds of females with young or bachelor males.

Catoctin Mountain Park is actively working to manage the deer population within the park. See the latest news on our deer management.


Black bear

In the 1990's, black bear returned to Catoctin after a twenty year absence. The black bear is the largest animal in Maryland. Adults typically weigh between 125 and 400 pounds. Their color varies from brown to black. They have good eyesight and hearing, but rely heavily on their excellent sense of smell to locate food. Bears will eat almost anything. Common foods include berries, acorns, hickory nuts, grasses, insects, fish, and carrion. They are also attracted to garbage, agricultural crops, and bird food placed in back yard feeders. This sometimes brings bears in conflict with humans.

Bears tend to be wary of humans, and will often flee when they hear you approach... Remember they are wild and should never be fed or harassed. If you encounter a bear, stay calm, do not approach it or run away. Avoid direct eye contact and do not panic if the bear stands on its hind legs. Remain upright, back away slowly and leave the area. Seeing a bear in the wild is an exciting experience. If you use common sense and good judgment, you can safely enjoy the natural beauty of this forest animal at a safe distance.


Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

6602 Foxville Road
Thurmont, MD 21788


(301) 663-9388
This phone number is for the visitor center and is answered during regular operating hours. An outgoing voicemail message provides information when the visitor center is closed.

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