Increase In Wildlife In Western NC

Deer in Western NC

As I told you earlier this week, seeing a deer when I was a kid made you feel as if you had caught a glimpse of an exotic animal. These days deer seem to be everywhere. I saw 4 on my way to work yesterday; 2 on my way to work today; and 1 on my way home tonight.

Bear in Western NC
While seeing a deer when I was young was rare-seeing a bear was almost unheard of. You might hear about bear hunters getting one around Nantahala but you didn’t hear about bears being seen near people’s houses like you do now.

Bear in cherokee co nc


One day when the girls were in first grade, I was home alone with a little boy I used to keep. I heard our little beagle Wilma start barking up a storm.

Just to make my little friend laugh I started saying silly things like “Wilma you better hush up-what are you barking at girl?” Turns out Wilma had good reason to bark.

When I looked out the window-Wilma who weighed less than 20lbs-was after a big black bear. I ran out in the yard to try and get her to come back-but noticed right away the bear wasn’t paying her one bit of attention. Wilma was of no more concern to the bear than a fly would have been. As soon as the bear cleared the yard, Wilma came back to the porch looking at me like she’d saved the day.

Coyotes in western nc


Coyotes were another animal that you never seen or heard about when I was growing up. Now they’ve taken up residence in this country. Coyotes were the demise of our Wilma.

Sometimes at night they howl on the ridge across from us. It’ll make those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

After they started preying on cattle in this area-one farmer hired people to kill the coyotes. The same farmer added a donkey to some of his fields. Everyone said they were to protect the calves from coyotes-but since the donkeys didn’t stick around long I’m not sure if it worked or not.

All the pictures in this post came from The Deer Hunter’s trailcam. Several years ago he set it up about 350 yards above our house. We loved seeing what showed up on it when he developed the film.

Deer in cherokee co nc


Mostly there were pictures of deer, squirrels, and turkey. Being so close to the house, we were surprised by the bear, coyote, and bobcat.

Bobcat in western nc


This is the only shot he got of a bobcat. I bet that one click of the camera ensured the cat never came back that way again.

Trail cam pictures


There was usually some funny ones on the trailcam too-like this one-what were those two doing up there? And there was the occasional neighborhood dog prancing through like he had been sent on a special mission.

The dramatic increase of wildlife during my lifetime is remarkable. I suppose it’s due to the decrease in hunting and the increase in people population pushing animals into areas they normally stayed away from.



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  • Reply
    December 6, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Ed-chickens are doing ok : ) And yes the fire pit is still working too! I need to write about the chickens…maybe soon : )

  • Reply
    Kate gold
    December 6, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Up here in PA, I’m ashamed to say that I like a few miles from the town bureau.
    One of my friends invited me to a party back in October…. Part of the night we listened to coyotes in a patch of woods at the back of the property and it was scary for a “city slicker” like me. To know there were multiple wild creatures only oh, 50 feet away.
    I’ve wanted to move out where I can see the stars and have a ranch or orchard but…. *shivers*

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    December 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Tipper, my brother lives up close to the back entrance to Cataloochee and he has had bear up on his porch (going for the bird feeders, likely). Also they keep a close eye on their little dog because of coyotes.
    About a year or so ago, I was driving back from my brother’s house at Surfside Beach, SC to my home in Columbia and thought I had seen a wolf on the side of the road. Everyone insists there are no wolves in SC, so I guess it was a coyote, but it sure was big! Where I live, we are just across the road from Fort Jackson, which is a huge installation. I have stopped my car and chased deer back into the woods so they would not try to cross the road and get hit/cause an accident. One day, when there was clear cutting for construction nearby, a red fox walked through my neighborhood in the middle of the day! Guess he was confused by the loss of his home and was looking for a place to go.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    “Great day in the morning” have I had fun on here today. This has been one of my best days ever! It’s my Birthday…74…I can’t remember having so much fun talking about the animals I love and some I love to not love!
    There were comments that made me laugh. Some comments that made me think. Some comments that I just totally ponder about…For instance; I think Ed needs to slip up the road to that neighbors and check out them chickens. If he can’t find the breed a Malay, one of the tallest, long leggiest 2ft and upwards, tight feathered, ugly, mean lookin’, tough old birds used sometimes for fightin’ and breeding which don’t confine well! Or it could possibly be the New Jersey Giant, large bird but legs are mostly in proportion to the bird. If none of these two then he better be watching for escapees. Who knows what type of imported critter it could be!
    By the way, we had a Red Tail Hawk that flew in our 6 foot lot, secured a hold on one of our largest, fattest Black Maran/Cross hens and took off on a three foot runway like a helicopter, almost straight up. Flew with it just barely past the tree line and dropped it. Sure he came back and ate it, for he knew he couldn’t carry it far. We have seen this hawk kill several that very way!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…and yes those two legged young critters are right purty in their huntin’ gear! I remember that picture…My have they matured since that pic was taken!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    HI Tipper,I’ve so enjoyed your blog today and its many comments,memorys flooding the the mind.AS ALWAYS THANK YOU.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Look closely at the two wild critters in the last picture. If they were in full camo, they would blend right into the background.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    and Tamela. Oh my goodness, I haven’t thought of this “jaguarondi booger”
    since the kids were in school studying animals. I thought ‘self’ we just better re-check-up on this thang, critter, varmint?
    I guess you already know, I didn’t, that it was introduced in Florida by some dude and they (many ?)have been sighted there, as well, now in Alabama. According to the website I read they are moving North from Florida. I suppose also along the coast up from Southern Texas. They are daytime prowlers and hunters. Mainly small game, a ‘liken to opossums, rabbits, small game birds etc…
    Oh my gosh, if they make the East Tennessee border they will feed and multiply like crazy, for we are the opossum road kill state of the South. They hang from persimmon trees in droves just like bats in a cave…Oh help, another varmint to watch for.
    I believe you Tamela…
    Thanks Tipper
    PS…The “jaguarondi” are not real ‘purty’ creatures like our big ole yeller ‘panters, they have an almost evil like pointy nose with a small head so then can sneak and peek in and about underbrushes!
    Ooooooh…in other words if they get there nose in they are here.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Living just south of the GSMNP we are often seeing or hearing about all the critters mentioned except the Elk. Coyotes have killed four cats and one beagle in the last ten years. Two reintroductions that I feel were a mistake were the beaver and the River Otter. Beaver have almost destroyed the wild grape vines which used to be plentiful along most waterways in Swain County and the Otter population has exploded. Very seldom does one go to the Fontana Lake that you do not see families of Otter, they appear most often at the confluences of the creeks with the lake indicating populations up these creeks, most of which are trout streams. Fish populations are decreasing as the Otter is a full time eating machine and are fast enough to catch any fish.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I hear them devilish coyotes quite often up where I live. Them boogers ate my Jack Russel, he wasn’t afraid of anything. So, now I keep a loaded gun just inside my front door.
    When I was about 9 or 10, I saw my first Deer while hunting and my brother and 1st cousin watched
    this monster buck swimming the
    Nantahala Lake near Little Choga.
    Soon as he cleared the water, my
    daddy told us to let him have it.
    I gagged like a dog while daddy
    field dressed him, but got to
    help drag him back to our vehicle. My first Buck and I
    still remember it well over 55
    years ago…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Reading today’s post got me worrying about something you haven’t spoken of in a while. How are your chickens?
    New neighbors moved in up the road and they have chickens. They (the chickens) are black, long legged and about two feet tall. They (the people) have a twelve foot fence around the lot. The top two feet is angled back into the pen. Other people around here have tried to raise free range chickens but foxes, hawks and eagles prevail. Coyotes too but I haven’t seen them. That fence would prevent the four legged critters from getting in, unless they were diggers or climbers and even then it would be difficult to get away with a chicken that big.
    Any bird of prey large enough to take on a chicken that big wouldn’t be able to land and take off again on such a short runway.
    And the Deer Hunter’s fire pit. Is that still working?

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Tipper–B. Ruth’s suspicions about coyotes being linked to a dearth of foxes are spot on. Coyotes will and do kill foxes with abandon–they basically don’t co-exist for any length of time. Coyotes are also pure poison on dogs and house cats which are allowed to range or run free.
    Any pet owner who lives in coyote territory (and they are pretty much everywhere these days) will be unwise to let their pets run free.
    Of course cats, with their predatory instincts and natural killing ability, should never be allowed free range anyway. Any animal control person or wildlife biologist will readily tell you house cats (and not just feral ones) are the number one killer of of songbirds.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I’ve been itching to set up some of those cameras – think it would be fun to link them to the computer for a live feed!! We’ve seen everything mentioned so far except the beaver, the otter and the Elk. Probably too little water around for the first two and too far south for the third although I’ve seen some fenced in at a ranch out Lubbock way.
    The donkeys really are effective coyote deterrents – don’t have trouble with them wandering off here. I’ve heard that llamas and alpacas are pretty good at it too.
    Another critter we have around here which has moved in from Mexico is the jaguarundi. I made two tentative sightings but got a good enough look one time to feel quite certain that is what I saw – even if TPWD is skeptical.
    Now that I don’t have children at home to relate stories about, critter sightings tend to make up the anecdotal portion of our annual Christmas letter – and I love them almost (well, sorta) as much as my kids!

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    December 3, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I see all of the same increases here in the South Carolina low country that you mentioned, except bear. We also have plenty of armadillo, and alligator have come back strong. Unfortunately, quail are now rare and rabbits are way down.

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    December 3, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Ditto for here in wooded southern Connecticut. We’ve had wild turkeys perching on the railing of our deck.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 3, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I was feeding at least 12-15 turkeys 3 times a day. They have disappeared. My squirrel count is down but the birds seem to be picking up. Have seen one bobcat and hear the coyotes every night.
    We had lots of pigs but the neighbor ran his dogs thru and chased them out. They were really doing damage to our yards.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Loved the pics and comments about changes in animal habitat today. As a young child, growing up in E. TN, I never even heard of a bear outside the GSNP, where I glimpsed one or two. Sightings are almost weekly on the news here in central FL, as they are increasing in throughout Appalachia.Coyotes are becoming prolific here, as well, and a danger to pets.

  • Reply
    Mrs. V
    December 3, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Your post title made me smile this morning. My Deer Hunter was in the tree stand this morning & from the house we heard the first shot of the season! We were excited…but it turned out to be a fox that had killed 2 of our chickens. He said as soon as the gun went off he heard a deer he hadn’t seen run off.
    It was our 3rd different fox attack in 3 years, so they’re up in Burke. We have our share of rabbits too but our cats have a talent for ferreting them out. This displeases me & we’ve decided to just raise rabbits ourselves. It’s unpleasant watching a movie in the summer w/ the windows open & then hear rabbit screams. She also doesn’t finish the job & brings in live frogs & once a chipmunk that ran to hide up in the curtains, much to my toddler’s delight. The weirdest offerings were a bat & a squirrel face left on the front porch. I had to study it some to figure it out, there was no lower jaw or back of the head, 1 ear was missing.
    There have been some bear tracks crossing our branch at the back of the property which makes me a little uneasy; the children don’t go out to play w/out a whistle.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

    When I used to have cows here on the farm, we would find several dead every year and even more with their tails pulled off. The old man down the road told us the coyote will pull their tails off while attempting to drag them to the ground. It’s scary how close they get to my driveway and front yard.
    We don’t have bears in this part of the state. There seems to be an over population of deer even with the many hunters taking their limit. The Fish And Wildlife Dept. has issued an extra fourteen tags to me for the last two years. The deer ate any limbs they could reach on the fruit trees, rose bushes and flowering shrubs while nearly foundering on the soybean crop.
    I live right across the road from Bernheim Forest and don’t expect to ever see a decrease in wildlife around here.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 3, 2014 at 8:47 am

    It was the same when I was a kid. Very rarely did you see a deer, bear or turkey. Where we live now it is a daily thing to see deer and turkey. I have had a bear in my truck and on the back deck. Last year the bear were everywhere around here looking for food. There was no acorns for them to eat. This year the acorns are abundant and the bear sightings were less.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 3, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I hate to be pesky but I would like to ask Jim if he thinks the coyote are killing off our foxes!
    For years I was in contact with our local game guy about the sighting of a Red Fox and kits on our place. By the way the kits are beautiful and early in the morning you could hear them whine when Momma crossed the old trail and went back to the den under a large old Oak..Back then the Red Fox was on the endangered species list. How did I find it? A racket by our free roaming hens sent me flying down near the chicken house only to see that beautiful Red Fox turn and throw over her shoulder a big Rhode Island Red…It was a Disney moment I tell you!
    Thanks again,
    PS…Oh how I wish I could walk the woods again, never take anything for granted!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 3, 2014 at 8:23 am

    and Jim…How could I forget Elk…I believe you are so right on about the Elk. Our paper and locals showed a picture of an Elk crossing a road not 45 miles from here. He (rack and glory) was barely crossing on the flat outskirt of Oliver Spring, Tn. It was caught on a police camera much to the surprise of the officers and all who saw it that morning…Remember this is the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau! Did it come from the release in the Smoky Mountains or from Big South Fork? It is still a mystery!
    The beaver are back building dams only to have the people that support them, have to hack and release the water…LOL
    No otters here so far…
    Oh by the way, we have Turkeys on our place, too! Especially since the coyotes have thinned out a bit!
    Thanks Tipper,
    and Jim..

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Being born and raised in the city, I wasn’t accustomed to seeing much wildlife. There were snakes and etc. but nothing like what I see here in the foothills. I really enjoy watching the deer, squirrels and birds, but not very enthusiastic about the raccoons who raid the bird feeder and tear up my plants. That also goes for voles and moles. However, I love the peacefulness of the area. The critters do chomp away at some of my plants. To me there is nothing more beautiful than watching a doe protect and feed her baby/babies. Now I know there are bear here, but seeing one is my yard would scare the living life out of me. I have seen coyotes occasionally; I think they are looking for my neighbor’s cat.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    December 3, 2014 at 7:35 am

    We’re getting lots of critters in our yard, here in Michigan, too. We’re NOT that far from a small town, but we are in the forest and adjacent to a wildlife refuge. We routinely have deer and turkey in the yard, but have also had red fox (no not the Sanford & Sons comedian)and all manner of raccoons, possum, skunk (ugh), chipmunks, and 4 different varieties of squirrel. Haven’t even touched on the avian species. The coyotes stay in the back, but wouldn’t be surprised to see one show up in our yard. Sure, I miss “home,” but with all the beauty up here, I guess we’ll be stayin’.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 3, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Tipper–As a boy I was in the woods constantly, and at the time I went off to college (1960) I had seen exactly 10 deer (so rare I remember every sighting). I had never seen a wild turkey.
    The reasons for the increases are many and complex. Fox hunters imported coyotes and they took holt, as they do anywhere (when the last man dies a coyote will be there to consume the carcass and roaches will take care of the clean up).
    Both deer and wild turkeys were stocked through trap and transfer.
    However, there’s another, far bleaker side to the picture. Quail have all but disappeared, not just in WNC but throughout the South. Grouse are far more scarce than once was the case. The same is true of rabbits. In other words, as big game populations have expanded, small game ones have declined. It’s not cause-and-effect, however. For small game a significant part of the equation is changed habitat.
    As for bobcats, they are secretive as all get out. I’ve seen perhaps a dozen in my entire hunting life, yet the careful observer will see tracks on a regular basis and I have trapper friends who catch a score or more of them every year.
    Finally, a couple of comebacks haven’t been much of a blessing. Ask anybody who has been troubled by the building activities of beavers what they think or talk to area trout fishermen about the devastation done by otters. You’ll soon find two comeback stories which aren’t at all welcome.
    Skeptic that I am, I’ll also note that I expect another comeback story, that of the elk, to begin producing problems quite soon. The Park doesn’t have fences and soon enough soaring elk populations will begin producing agricultural damage.
    Interesting blog and one in which I obviously have a keen interest.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 3, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Lions, Tigers and Bears…Oh my!
    I loved the pictures. The one doe looks to be with child..uhh..fawn!
    I am surprised there were no wild boar on your night camera pictures! We haven’t had any but they have been seen about 20 miles from here. The coyotes showed up here seems like around 1974..Our Shid-Tzu was attacked early one morning last year. A trip to the Vet ER, stitches, plus shock meds to our poor dog. Our neighbors have donkeys to help protect the sheep. Our neighbor set up a distress rabbit call and ended up killing 9 in about three weeks from the loft of his barn. I believe the coyotes have killed off a lot of our grouse and quail as we don’t see and hear them like before. The armadillos have been spotted right here in our area also. But we have never seen one. Bears are around but not often, my neighbor has seen two thru the years. We have heard Bob Cats squall in years past but only saw one when going to Oak Ridge very early one morning. I am waiting on the next Western varmint to show up, the California Puma or cougars…for I know our “no see um” cougars,
    “catamounts” or ‘painters will not roam this way or…..will they? They are there for I have seen one with a witness. The Tennessee Smoky Ranger did believe us too!
    Thanks Tipper,
    Great post…I love the critters and venison in the freezer!
    PS..Gotta go, there is a “doe” knocking on the door wondering if she can hang close to the house until the hunters leave! LOL Why sure I said…”Bring all your girl friends out of our garden, have fun and bask around on the deck while your at it”…NOT!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2014 at 6:34 am

    When I was growing up Daddy had bird dogs, and we bird hunted mostly,, never seen a deer in our parts, you would have to get closer to the mountain to see deer, now they are every where hardly a day goes by that you don’t see one as road kill or just standing in a field.. those game camera are great inventions,, we used them a few years ago at work to catch copper thieves, we even helped TVA to prosecute a few,, 15yrs is a long time,, but you do the crime you do the time….

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