Searching for safe passage: Group works for safer wildlife crossings on I-40

Growing up in eastern Kentucky, Frances Figart loved any chance to glimpse the diverse wildlife species roaming those Appalachian foothills — except when the sightings occurred after the creatures had become roadkill, something that occurred all too frequently. She felt their deaths keenly. 

Research indicates high levels of microplastics in WNC waters

Jason Love got interested in microplastics by way of mussels. 

A wildlife biologist by education and training, he’d long been interested in the reasons behind the decline of Southern Appalachian mussel species, and in particular that of the federally endangered Appalachian elktoe. He was interested while working in his previous position as site manager for Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, and he’s interested now in his new position as associate director of the Highlands Biological Station.

Rallying around the red wolf: Haywood man works to save N.C.’s native wolf

Christopher Lile, 23, was just months away from graduating to begin a career in wildlife conservation when he first learned that North Carolina has a native wolf population. He was sitting in a senior-year class at Gardner-Webb University, and a Defenders of Wildlife representative was speaking about the red wolf. 

The Naturalist's Corner: Louisiana solitude

I recently made a semi-regular sojourn to the northeast Louisiana Delta, a stone’s throw from where I grew up. Friends get together twice a year (spring and fall) for a cookout at a beautiful spot along the Ouachita River. It is hard for me to tear away in the spring so I usually shoot for fall. I don’t make all of them, but I make as many as I can. It’s so good to see old friends and make new ones in such a relaxed atmosphere. This trip provided an extra bonus as I got to share a reading from A Year from the Naturalist’s Corner Volume I at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center. Thanks to Friends of Black Bayou and BBLNWR staff for making that happen.

Report pine snake sightings

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission wants to know about pine snake sightings in North Carolina, found mostly in the southwestern mountain counties, the southern Coastal Plain and the Sandhills.

Live animal programs offered for schools

Schools and other educational organizations in Western North Carolina have the opportunity to bring wildlife education programs to their home turf through the Mountain Wildlife Outreach program. 

Woman injured in bear encounter

A Swannanoa woman sustained serious, though non-life-threatening, injuries Tuesday, Sept. 18, after an encounter with a black bear. 

Counting the bears: UTK conducts largest-ever black bear survey

Barbed wire and hundreds of pounds of donuts are the key ingredients in a University of Tennessee Knoxville effort to complete the largest-scale black bear population study ever attempted. 

The 16 million-acre study area covers portions of Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, but by far the biggest chunk — about 8 million acres — includes portions of 24 WNC counties. Researchers collected data from the other three states last year but are spending the second and last year of the study focused solely on counting bears in North Carolina. 

Wildlife through a lens: Highlands couple explores the outdoors one photograph at a time

The years since retirement have been anything but dull for Highlands residents Ed and Cindy Boos. From Ecuador to Kenya to destinations across North America, they’ve traveled the world — camera bags in hand.

The resulting catalogue of photos, primarily depicting wildlife but also featuring plenty of landscapes, includes everything from a young elephant feeding from its mother on an African Savannah to a Smokies black bear giving a wave as it rolls on the ground.

Comprehending climate: Smokies seeks to understand impacts of shifts in seasonal patterns

According to the National Phenology Network, Punxsutawny Phil had it all wrong when he emerged from his hole this month to declare six more weeks of winter — across the Southeastern U.S, the NPN’s data shows, spring 2017 is arriving three weeks earlier than the 1981-2010 average. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking for volunteers to help gather the data that will bring such generalizations down to a more local level. Phenology — the ways that plants and animals respond to seasonal changes — has been the subject of increasing interest as discussions about climate change have heated up, and the park is now four years into a volunteer program to collect data for the larger NPN project.

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