a raccoon on a leash and the welcome to tennessee sign

6 Utterly Bizarre Tennessee Laws You Didn’t Know Existed

​​Tennessee has a few bizarre laws on the books which range from rollerblading at the state Capital to owning pet raccoons I’ve covered Tennessee politicians for more than 20 years. As a result, I know that they are much better at putting new laws on the books than they are at removing old ones. For instance, for years both atheists

people standing around and taking closeup pictures of a bear in cades cove

7 Things Not To Do When You Spot Wildlife In the Smoky Mountains

A few tips and tricks on what not to do when you see wildlife in the Smoky Mountains Warmer weather has returned to the mountains and with it, wildlife in the Smokies is more active. As someone who has lived near the mountains for more than 30 years, I’ve seen my fair share of people who have surprisingly little awareness

a black bear cub crosses the street

The 3 Dangerous Animals You Should Avoid in the Smoky Mountains

Wildlife spotting is part of the fun when visiting the Smoky Mountains, but you’ll need to keep your distance from these dangerous animals As someone who has run around the mountains of East Tennessee for over three decades, I know dangers lurk in the mountains. No, I’m not talking about Bigfeet or feral people or witches or haints. Mother Nature

a nesticus spider and the smoky mountains

3 New Spiders Have Just Been Discovered in the Smoky Mountains

Calling all arachnophobes – 3 new species of spiders have been found in the Great Smoky Mountains Last year, a pair of scientists announced they’d identified 10 new species of spiders, three of them residing in the Smokies. Some are surprised when they announce a new species in the park. However, as someone who has lived around the mountains for

The scissor tailed flycatcher

Strange Birds Are Being Sighted Throughout the Smoky Mountains

Rare birds known as ‘accidentals’ are known to make rare sightings in the mountains of East Tennessee You see a flitter of color. You hear the distant echo of a song. Unless you’re a birder, it won’t mean much to you other than a moment of beauty to brighten the day. As someone who has lived in the area for

an eastern spotted skunk does a handstand

These 11 Animals Have Gone Missing From the Smoky Mountains

Get a good look – these animals will likely never be seen again in the mountains of East Tennessee As someone who has lived in the Smoky Mountains for nearly 35 years, I often think about the mountains’ history. What was it like when red wolves roamed the hills? Or what would it have been like to see a flock

armadillo in tennessee

Yes, Armadillos Live in Tennessee: Here’s Why They Are Becoming Common

What you should know about armadillos As an East Tennessean, I have seen plenty of armadillo carcasses. But I’d never found myself face-to-face with one of the nocturnal mammals until recently. I had assumed that armadillos are essentially possums with chain mail. However, it turns out that armadillos have more in common with the anteater than they do the possum,

Eastern Hellbender

5 Secrets of the Smoky Mountains That May Surprise You

Tennessee local lists favorite little-known facts about the Smokies I always say that it’s no surprise an ancient mountain range cloaked in a thick forest and shrouded in mist has secrets. Each year, the mountains reclaim that which was forgotten or abandoned when the park drove away those who’d lived in the mountains. Of course, the National Park Service has

a bobcat has a much shorter tail than a mountain lion and is much smaller

Are Mountain Lions in the Smoky Mountains? It Depends on Who You Ask

How to tell the difference between a mountain lion and a bobcat It’s been more than 100 years since mountain lions have lived in the Smokies. However, if you spend enough time around mountain folk, you’ll hear of someone who knows someone who knows someone who saw a panther – or its prints – in the national park. Sure, the mountains

black bear in winter months

The Interesting Reason Black Bears Don’t Hibernate in Tennessee

Surprising facts about black bears and their cubs in the winter months It’s commonly thought that all black bears (both male and female) spend the entire winter sleeping in a dark cave, surviving off a bunch of stored-up body fat. So why do we see so many bears actively roaming alongside deer and elk around the Cades Cove Loop in