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!”

Can I Kill a Snake on My Property in Tennessee?

Snakes— even the scary ones— are vital to the health of our ecosystem, and even to human beings. Fleas and ticks carried by rats are frequent carriers for human diseases such as Lyme disease and even plague. An ecosystem full of snakes has fewer rats, meaning fewer ticks, meaning fewer human infections. Snakes are alsoContinue reading “Can I Kill a Snake on My Property in Tennessee?”

Eastern Spotted Skunks Declining

Many people wouldn’t even recognize this little fellow as a skunk. Over time, the population of the Eastern spotted skunk has declined so much that many people are unaware of their existence, and they have been eradicated through much of their native range. The spotted skunk’s population first took a dive when it was over-trappedContinue reading “Eastern Spotted Skunks Declining”

What’s a Phoby Cat?

You might occasionally still hear older people refer to an animal called a “phoby cat.” This is due to an outbreak of rabies— formerly called hydrophobia— among Western spotted skunks in the 1800s. Unfortunately, the spotted skunk’s reputation as a rabies carrier led to a massive trend in over-hunting and over-trapping, the effects of whichContinue reading “What’s a Phoby Cat?”