Most of Shenandoah National Park is forested, which makes it a haven for wildlife that have suffered from habitat loss due to human development. There are around 200 transient and resident bird species in the park, as well as more than 50 mammal species and 30 different species of fish. Black bears are active in the park (as they are in most of Virigina) so hikers should take precautions, particularly in the backcountry.
Although the cerulean warbler still has a broad range in North America, it is only a fraction of it once was. But fortunately, Shenandoah remains a popular refuge for the birds, who play an important role in the park’s ecosystem by feeding on insects — such as cankerworms and moths — that can harm trees. Adult males of the species have bright blue feathers, as their name suggests. Females and young warblers are blue-green in color.
Brook trout, sometimes called native trout or “brookie,” are a common game fish found in Shenandoah National Park. They are native to the Appalachian Mountains and eastern United States, but have been introduced all over North America. Known by their dark base coloring with a pattern of light colored spots, brook trout will also breed with brown trout where the two species co-exist, forming a hybrid called tiger trout. Tiger trout are popular stock fish because they help control populations by eating other fish, and are almost always sterile (hence, will not propagate and take over ecosystems). Brook trout can be found in many of Shenandoah’s mountain streams and tributaries. The catch limit is six trout of any kind per day.
Black bears are common throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, and may number as many as 6,000 individuals in Virginia. Bears have a special place at Shenandoah National Park, since about 40 percent of that park’s heavily forested land is protected wilderness. Black bears are avid climbers, and will venture up into trees in search of food. In fact, they’ll seek out food almost anywhere they can find it, especially during the feeding binge that precedes their yearly winter hibernation. Bears have been known to raid orchards, cars and even garbage dumps in search of food. Because of their voracious feeding and curious nature, it’s very important that visitors secure their food items and take other precautions while in the park. Never feed bears.