Black bear

White-tailed Deer

As evidence of the Deer Clan “A-ni Ka-wi,” white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) represent a culturally important animal to the Cherokee people. In western North Carolina, white-tailed deer number less than 15 per square mile, a number that may be lower on EBCI lands. EBCI prohibits deer harvest due to scarcity and cultural importance. In order to promote a connection between Cherokee people and deer as well as increase deer populations we have implemented restoration activities, researched native deer, and work to manage habitat.

Management actions include:

Wild Hog

Invasive to North America, feral hogs (Sus scrofa) thrive in a variety of habitats. Feral hogs are omnivores meaning they will consume everything ranging from grain to carrion (dead, decaying things). These animals create problems such as decreasing water quality, propagating exotic plants, increasing soil erosion, modifying nutrient cycles and damaging native plant species. Another common problem is the direct competition with native wildlife for resources, direct predation, and the spread of disease and parasites.

Management actions include:


Since their re-introduction in 2001, the EBCI have participated in a multi-agency effort to restore elk (Cervus elaphus) to the mountain landscape. The management of elk started with a memorandum of understanding between the National Park Service and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in 2010 to develop habitat, protect from threats, and enhance communication and training opportunities on mutual issues of interest relative to the elk population. Elk have greatly benefited Cherokee tourism.


Coyotes (Canis latrans) are relatively new to the area and pose a significant threat when it comes to managing game species. Coyotes are the hardiest and most adaptable carnivores on the continent, surviving anywhere that food is abundant. Being non-native to North Carolina, coyotes may be a relatively new threat to many species. Currently there is an open season and no bag limit on EBCI lands. We established a bounty system to incentivize hunting and to collect valuable biological data for an assessment of their impacts to the native ecosystem.

Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel

Cherokee lands, which contain many high mountaintops, provide a stronghold for the federally endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus). This squirrel is only resides in western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as endangered under the ESA in 1985. The largest threat to this species is the loss of mature trees for suitable nesting. The forests where Carolina northern flying squirrels live have been heavily impacted by the balsam wooly adelgid and historic logging practices.

Bat Diversity

Twelve bat species (Vespertilionidae) are documented on EBCI lands, including the Endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and the Threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). The Endangered gray bat (Myotis grisescens) is suspected to occur based on past acoustic detections. The primary concerns for bat populations are white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease causing drastic declines in local bats populations, and habitat degradation.

American Black Bear

American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) are culturally important to Cherokee people, represented in many stories and as the largest source of wild meat and fur on EBCI lands. Over-harvesting and habitat degradation are the biggest threats to these animals. Since 2007, we have assessed populations through harvest records and bear bait stations. On rare occasions, we also address human-bear conflicts.

Management Actions include:

  • Bear Bait Stations
  • Hunter Harvest Surveys
  • Camera Trap Surveys