Interacting With Wildlife & Plants
The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than a road - it's a journey! Make a difference during your visit on behalf of the plant and wildlife species by observing the following tips:
- The best diet for all animals is a natural one. Human food can make any wild animal sick. The digestive system of a white tail deer, common around campgrounds and picnic areas, only breaks down the natural food sources including twigs, bark, leaves, grasses and acorns. Wild animals like the taste of human food, but for their safety and health, do not feed them.
- The Parkway has unique habitats that support rare and endangered plants and animals. Many of these plants are threatened by foot traffic. The problem can be alleviated by the simple practice of staying on the trail. There are several especially sensitive areas, including the Tanawha Trail around Grandfather Mountain, the Craggy Pinnacle Trail at Craggy Gardens, and at Devil’s Courthouse. Whether you suspect the presence of rare plants or not, please stay on the trail – if for no other reason than to protect all plants and to prevent erosion.
- Rabies can be transmitted by most wild animals. Animals in the park should not be treated as pets or lured close enough to feed or touch. If a squirrel, chipmunk, or other animal comes close without your encouragement, it could be a sign of serious illness, please tell a ranger.
- All plants on the Parkway are protected. Many of our native wildflowers in the Blue Ridge are threatened by illegal harvesting. The large, round, shiny evergreen leaves of Galax have been gathered commercially in the southern Appalachian mountains for generations for decorative uses in floral arrangements. Now harvested on a much larger scale, they are being shipped to flower shops around the world.