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?”

Tennessee’s Endangered Indiana Bat

The Indiana bat, which lives here in Tennessee, has lost 50-95% of its population over the the last 70 years. The main cause of this crash was human disturbance of the largest caves where they were nesting. These critters are now federally protected, but still face serious threats because of white nose fungus (a deadlyContinue reading “Tennessee’s Endangered Indiana Bat”

Is a Red Wolf Just a Coywolf?

Many people have pushed to eliminate protections for red wolves— our native wolf, here in Tennessee— by positing that they are not actually an endangered species. These anti-wolf activists claim that there is no such animal as a red wolf, and that “red wolves” are simply a hybrid between coyotes and grey wolves. This, simplyContinue reading “Is a Red Wolf Just a Coywolf?”

How Dangerous are Wolves and Coyotes?

People live in fear of the Big Bad Wolf, and his smaller cousin the coyote, even though attacks on humans are rare and deaths are nearly unheard of. Most of the ten annual deaths from wolves are due to pet wolves turning on their owners, not wild wolves seeking prey. And, in all of U.S.Continue reading “How Dangerous are Wolves and Coyotes?”

The Black Coyotes of the South

Four hundred years ago, the forests of the Southeast came alive every night with the howls of red wolves. These beautiful creatures often carried the melanistic gene, which gave them jet-black fur. Researchers believe this was because it provided an advantage when hunting in dark, densely wooded areas during the night. Mass deforestation, hunting, andContinue reading “The Black Coyotes of the South”

The Endangered Red Wolf

Few animals are as controversial as the red wolf. Conservationists have attempted several times to reintroduce these beautiful, majestic, ecologically important animals back into parts of their native range, but misconceptions and fear— as well as coyote interbreeding and disease— have stalled progress in their recovery. Eliminating the red wolf did nothing to protect humansContinue reading “The Endangered Red Wolf”

Tennessee’s Otters Return

Most of my fellow Chattanoogans are familiar with these cuties, who are a popular attraction at the Tennessee Aquarium! The North American river otter is considered an indicator species, meaning that its presence (or absence) in an ecosystem is a major indicator of the health of the environment. As sensitive animals at the top ofContinue reading “Tennessee’s Otters Return”