Tennessee’s Endangered Flying Squirrel

This cutie pie is a rare sight, spotted occasionally in some of the higher altitude areas here in East Tennessee. Carolina flying squirrels are a subspecies of the Northern flying squirrel, currently facing the possibility of extinction due to habitat fragmentation and pollution. Its greatest threats come from the loss of the old-growth spruce forestsContinue reading “Tennessee’s Endangered Flying Squirrel”

Can the Porcupine Return to Tennessee?

Many Tennesseans don’t know that this cutie pie, the American porcupine, once lived in our state. The American porcupine was once abundant in the mountains of East Tennessee, but they were completely eliminated from our state by people who regarded them as pests, mostly because of their tendency to seek out salt-treated woods that wereContinue reading “Can the Porcupine Return to Tennessee?”

Tennessee’s Southern Bog Lemming

Many people think of lemmings as exotic animals that live only in cold wilderness areas. But this little fellow right here, the Southern bog lemming, actually lives right here in the Southern U.S.! Southern bog lemmings are a vital part of our ecosystem, as the preferred prey of many threatened and endangered native animals. AlthoughContinue reading “Tennessee’s Southern Bog Lemming”

Fishers Return to Tennessee

This handsome member of the weasel family, called a fisher or fisher-cat, was driven to statewide extinction by over-trapping. In 2002, conservationists selected a remote, forested area in middle Tennessee to re-introduce this animal to its native habitat. No one knows how successful they have been. Tennessee’s fishers lived on a diet rich in snowshoeContinue reading “Fishers Return to Tennessee”

Tennessee’s Dusky Gopher Frog Extinct Statewide

Conservationists need highlight the struggle of this precious animal, which native to our home state. The dusky gopher frog was once found in wetlands throughout the South, ranging as far north as middle Tennessee. Due to the extreme loss of suitable wetland habitats, dusky gopher frogs haven’t been seen in Tennessee in over twenty years,Continue reading “Tennessee’s Dusky Gopher Frog Extinct Statewide”

Tennessee’s Box Turtles in Danger

It’s important to recognize the plight of wild animals right here in the Southeastern U.S. This handsome fellow is an Eastern box turtle, which has experienced a sharp population decline over the last few decades. Without intervention and protection, this once-common backyard guest could vanish forever. The good news is that everyday people like youContinue reading “Tennessee’s Box Turtles in Danger”

The Puma: Tennessee’s Most Endangered Mammal

I was a teenager in 2004 when I spotted the tracks, in a summer-dried creekbed not far from my family’s home in small-town West Tennessee. I examined them over and over again, first by memory and then with my worn-out field guides, confirming without a doubt that they came from a puma. The puma— alsoContinue reading “The Puma: Tennessee’s Most Endangered Mammal”

Canine Distemper Decimates Wildlife

Canine distemper originated in North American domestic dogs in the late 1800s. Ever since, this deadly family of viruses has spread like wildfire through wild foxes, wolves, coyotes— and even unrelated animals like lions, bears, skunks, and raccoons. Many animals, like the Ethiopian wolf and Amur leopard, are now facing imminent extinction due to distemperContinue reading “Canine Distemper Decimates Wildlife”

Moving a Turtle: a Death Sentence

People will often try to help an Eastern box turtle by taking it to an area with less traffic or more vegetation. This is one of the worst things you can do for a turtle. Box turtles have small territories no more than a few acres wide. When taken out of those territories, they useContinue reading “Moving a Turtle: a Death Sentence”

Leave Box Turtles Alone!

An Eastern box turtle should NEVER be relocated, or brought home as a pet. These precious animals are considered to be threatened and endangered, with the pet trade and personal “kidnapping” being among of their biggest risks. When handled, they experience extreme stress but don’t have the strength or speed to get away. Keeping aContinue reading “Leave Box Turtles Alone!”