The Wildlife of the Cherokee Forest and Why It Matters

The Cherokee Forest in the United States is a beautiful, serene place with plenty of wildlife to observe. The wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains region is varied and important. The habitat is diverse enough to offer a home for many species of animals such as birds, deer, and bears-just to name a few!  There are plenty of birds in the forest, and they can be very easy to spot. These animals are an important part of the ecosystem and help to keep it healthy. Come explore this forest and learn about the different types of wildlife that live here. You’ll also learn why it’s important to protect this wildlife and its habitats.

Animals in Cherokee Forest

There are plenty of animals living in the Cherokee Forest. Some of the most common ones are deer, bears, and birds. The wildlife in this area is important for conservation efforts.


Elk in Cherokee Forest

Every winter, Cherokee Forest is transformed into a magical wonderland as thousands of elk descend from the mountains in search of food. It’s an incredible sight to behold, and it’s one of the many reasons why Cherokee Forest is such a popular destination for nature lovers. Jeep tours on the Blue Ridge Winter Parkway offer the best opportunity to observe Elks during the winter months.

Elk are the largest member of the deer family, they weigh up to 1,000 pounds. These majestic animals are a sight to behold, and visitors to the forest often enjoy watching them graze in meadows or drink from rivers and streams. While elk are generally peaceful creatures, they can be dangerous when they feel threatened. They can be aggressive during mating season, and they have been known to attack humans who come too close. As a result, it is important to give elk plenty of space and respect their territory. With a little caution and respect, visitors to the Cherokee National Forest can safely enjoy observing these fascinating animals in their natural habitat.

River Otter

River Otter in the great Smoky Mountains region

River otters are playful, mischievous creatures that bring a touch of levity to any forest they inhabit. The Cherokee National Forest is home to a small population of these furry critters, and visitors lucky enough to spot one are in for a treat.

They typically weigh between 10 and 30 pounds, and their sleek bodies are well-suited for life in the water. They are proficient swimmers, often chasing fish or diving for clams and other aquatic invertebrates. On land, they are just as agile, able to climb trees and dig burrows with equal ease.

Popular Tours in Cherokee (the Great Smoky Mountains region)

Black Bear

Black Bear in Cherokee National Park

Black bears are the largest land mammals in North Carolina and can weigh anywhere from 250 to 600 pounds. These imposing animals are usually black, but they can also be brown or blond. They are excellent climbers and swimmers, and they are very adept at finding food. They are mostly active at night, but they can also be seen during the day.

An estimated 1,500 black bears are living in the Cherokee National Forest. So it’s no surprise that they are often spotted by visitors. If you’re lucky enough to see a black bear in the wild, it’s sure to be a memorable experience. There is no better way to see black bears and other animals than on a private day tour in Cherokee Forest or Smoky Mountains.

White-tail Deer

White-tail Deer in the Smoky Mountains forest

Deer are an important part of the Cherokee National Forest ecosystem and play a vital role in the food chain. They are herbivores, which means that they eat plants. This helps to keep the vegetation in check and provides food for other animals, such as rabbits and mice. In addition, deer are prey for predators such as bears.

Every fall, thousands of deer descend on the forest. The Cherokee people have long relied on the deer for food and shelter, and their focus on conservation has helped to ensure that the forest will remain a source of sustenance for future generations. Today, the Cherokee people continue to hunt deer traditionally, using only bows and arrows. In doing so, they not only provide for their families but also help to protect the delicate balance of the forest ecosystem.

Birds in Cherokee Forest

The Cherokee National Forest is home to a diverse array of bird species. Some of the most common ones are osprey, owls, and blue jays. These birds play an important role in the forest ecosystem, and their presence is a welcome sight for birdwatchers.


Osprey in Cherokee National Park

Osprey is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of up to six feet. They are easily recognizable by their white underside and dark brown back. They nest in tall trees near bodies of water, and they prey on fish, which they catch with their sharp talons. In the Cherokee National Forest, osprey can be found near lakes and rivers, where they often perch on dead trees or power lines.


Warblers in Cherokee Forest

There’s nothing quite like a summer day in the Cherokee forest. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the air is filled with the sound of warblers. These beautiful little birds are a delight to watch as they flit from tree to tree in search of insects. Warblers come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, making them one of the most popular groups of birds among birdwatchers. You can find warblers here, including the black-and-white warbler, the yellow-rumped warbler, and the cerulean warbler. With a little patience and a good pair of binoculars, you’re sure to have a memorable experience watching these wonderful little birds.


Hawks in the great Smoky Mountains region

Hawks are predatory birds that feed on small animals such as rodents, rabbits, and snakes. These birds play an important role in the forest ecosystem by keeping populations of small mammals and rodents in check. They can be seen throughout the year, but they are most active in the spring and summer months. During these months, the Forest comes alive with the sound of hawks calling to each other as they hunt for food. Hawks are typically seen perched on a tree branch, watching for prey. When they spot something they like, they will swoop down on it with lightning-fast speed.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey in Cherokee National Park

The wild turkey, known as “Duleji”, is a large, predatory bird that is found throughout the Cherokee National Forest. They are easily recognizable by their dark brown feathers and red wattle. They are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. Duleji feed on a variety of things, including acorns, berries, insects, and small animals. They play an important role in dispersing seeds and controlling insect populations. These birds can be quite territorial and are known to attack other animals, including humans, if they feel threatened.

Why wildlife in Cherokee is important for conservation efforts?

Wildlife is an important part of the Cherokee National Forest ecosystem. Three hundred and fifty species of vertebrates call the forest home. These animals play a vital role in the forest’s ecology, helping to disperse seeds, control plant growth, and recycle nutrients. In addition, they provide an important source of food and shelter for other wildlife species.


The Cherokee Forest is a beautiful, serene place with plenty of wildlife to observe. The wildlife here is varied and important. The habitat is diverse enough to offer a home for many species of animals. If you’re looking for an exciting outdoor adventure, this place should be on your list. There are plenty of opportunities for bird watching, hiking, and camping in this gorgeous forest. So pack your bags and get ready to explore nature at its finest!


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