Whether you are a nature enthusiast or just interested in wildlife, knowing about wolves in Tennessee will be an enriching and satisfying experience.
Especially, since these majestic creatures are colonizing the states near Tennessee, understanding wolves’ behaviors and their significance in the ecological system will help promote their successful re-establishment in Tennessee.
Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the wolf population in Tennessee.
Are There Any Wolves in Tennessee?
Though many gray wolf sightings have occurred in Tennessee, none of them have been confirmed. While gray wolves have historically occupied much of the North American continent, Tennessee is not known to host these beasts in the past. However, red wolves have historically inhabited the southeast U.S. including Tennessee.
Red wolves are smaller and more specialized wolf species that predominantly hunt small animals like rodents, hares, and rabbits.
This species of wolf has gray-black fur with a distinctive red cast from which its name is derived. While these beasts roamed across the state of Tennessee in the past, no red wolves are currently found to exist in the state of Tennessee.
By the mid-1900s, a culmination of several factors like habitat loss, prey scarcity, and hunting led to the extirpation of red wolves in Tennessee.
Where Do Wolves Live in Tennessee?
While there have been occasional sightings of wolves in various parts of Tennessee, there is currently no established population of wolves found in the state. As a matter of fact, red wolves were believed to be present in all 93 counties of the state in the past.
Historically, the red wolf range included the whole state except the westernmost part which consists of the Mississippi River floodplain. However, after European settlement, wolves were wiped off from all the regions of the state and are currently extirpated in the wild.
In recent years, most of the wolf sighting reports come from the eastern part of the state, especially the Appalachian Mountains, and few in the Cherokee National Forest.
It is also important to note that most of these sighted wolves are typically individuals dispersing from nearby states. While wolf sightings in the state are rare, most of the reports of wolf-like animals tend to be coyotes, dogs, and other canids.
Also Check Our Guide On Wolves In virginia
Are There Wolves in The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee?
Currently, there is no well-established and confirmed population of wolves in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While there have been few reports of wolves being sighted, most of these wolves have likely migrated from nearby habitats like The Great Lakes region and other parts of the southeast U.S.
Although the Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses a large area that is habitable by wolves, the park doesn’t reintroduce wolves nor does it have any plans for the future too.
However, there’s no certainty the scenario will remain the same in the future. Pressure and criticism may encourage the state to begin reintroduction initiatives.
Also Check Our Guide On Wolves In US
Are There Coywolves in Tennessee?
Coywolves are a hybrid canid resulting from the interbreeding of coyotes with gray/eastern wolves. Recently, there has been an increasing trend of coywolf sightings across the eastern U.S. including Tennessee. Though the state of Tennessee doesn’t have an established population of coywolves, most of the sightings are due to the dispersion of coywolves from nearby states.
As the extent of wolf hybridization with coyotes is still under scientific debate, the term “Coywolf” is controversial. Due to the increased presence of coyotes in Tennessee especially eastern part of the state, there have been occasional reports of coywolves in these regions.
There have also been many reports of coywolves in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While coyotes and coywolves differ little in physical traits, the two can be differentiated only through genetic testing.
Can You Own a Wolf in Tennessee?
No, you cannot own a wolf in Tennessee. It is illegal to possess, capture, or import any Class I wildlife species which includes wolves in the state.
However, a special permit may be applied for the posing of wolves for educational or scientific purposes. But even then, the animal must be well-secured and cared for by professionals.
Moreover, wolves are wild animals and not suitable to be kept as pets. Even the wolves raised in captivity are unpredictable and exhibit potentially dangerous behaviors. It’s, therefore, safe to support wolf conservation efforts, by volunteering instead of trying to own one as a pet.
And that was everything you need to know about the wolves in Tennessee. I hope this article answered your queries.
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I’m a passionate animal lover and researcher, I’ve created this website so that people can learn about the size and characteristics of different animal species. My goal is to educate and inspire people to appreciate the diversity of our planet’s wildlife.