Creature Feature
Making New Friends in Brevard’s Animal Kingdom

Brevard and Transylvania County’s lush forests, rushing waterways and breathtaking peaks have long lured adventurers, sightseers and lovers of wildlife. Everybody knows about our white squirrels. Brevard’s fluffy-tailed unofficial mascots can be spotted through the town, and, in the case of Pisgah Pete, local rescue squirrel turned goodwill ambassador, counted on for predictions of spring weather and the Superbowl winner every February 2nd.  

But white squirrels are not the only unique creatures that have found a home in in our mountains. From big black bears to the tiniest little organisms, this region is home to a dazzling variety of wildlife. Here are a few you can get to know:

This large, striped member of the pike family is formally called a Muskellunge.  But around here, you’re more likely to hear fishermen refer to them by their nickname. Muskies are big fish and pretty rare, which makes them a prized catch by anglers in the Transylvania County stretch of the French Broad River. 

As the largest native fish to the French Broad River, muskies all but disappeared from local waterways for many years due to pollution, dams and draining projects between the late 19th and early 20th century. The North Carolina Wildlife Commission began raising and stocking muskies in North Carolina waterways as trophy fish during the late 1970s. Recent efforts by Conserving Carolina and other organizations are aimed at restoring area wetlands to a healthier, more natural state. This may ultimately lead to the spawning of wild muskie in our waters. Until then, you can try your hand at catching one for yourself in the French Broad, where you might also find native Brook Trout, as well as Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout.

Native to the Eastern and Central United States, these giant, but elusive, aquatic salamanders are known by a whole world of colorful, folkloric names (devil dog, snot otter, mud devil, grampus and many more) due to their, shall we say, "unique" appearance. They also average 9-15 inches long, the largest amphibians in North America.

In and around Brevard you’re likely to share space in a waterway with a hellbender, particularly the Davidson River, but know that they’re good at hiding. They’re more active in the late summer and early fall, which is their spawning season. Hellbenders were targeted by fisherman for many years, which depleted their numbers. To keep their population stable, experts ask that we give the hellbenders their space and don’t disturb their habitat by moving rocks.
Peregrine Falcons

These beautiful raptors, with dark blue-gray backs and pale undersides, are a rare sight in North Carolina. Listed as endangered in the state, a small number of Peregrine Falcons soar over the Southern Appalachians, preferring to build their nests on rockfaces and high cliffs. 

In Transylvania County, you may be able to spot Peregrine Falcons at higher elevations near the Blue Ridge Parkway or along the escarpment around Gorges State Park and Lake Toxaway. 

All About Wildlife 

The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Pisgah National Forest offers indoor and outdoor attractions, including aquariums, hands-on exhibits, garden displays and a great opportunity to view and feed Hatchery trout. The Center also runs a regular series of educational programs on a variety of outdoors and wildlife related topics. Visit them here to find out more. 

In short, the lush forests and waterways that surround Brevard serve as a natural playground for dozens of exceptional creatures.  Learn more about Transylvania County’s wildlife and where you can catch sight of them here

Discover More & Think Outside

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Read the previous Field Notes here

Brought to you by Transylvania County Tourism

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