The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: twra

Wednesday, 11 October 2023 22:17

TWRA seeks information on bull elk poaching

bull elk anodent 4046124191 e106e2926e hBull elk in Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Oct. 22, 2009.  Creative Commons Mark BY-SA 2.0  anoldent

CLINTON The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) seeks information related to a bull elk illegally poached in Anderson County on Sunday, Oct. 8. TWRA was notified on Sunday that a bull elk had been killed and upon investigation, the entire carcass was located with what appeared to be a wound inflicted by an archery system.

The elk head was taken into custody by officers as evidence and the carcass was taken in for processing to support the Hunters for the Hungry program. Processing was donated by the Campbell Outdoor Recreation Association (CORA).

“Poaching is a serious offense in Tennessee,” said TWRA Officer Caleb Hardwick “The TWRA has been working diligently since 2000 to restore the elk population to a huntable size. Poaching is not only illegal, but it threatens restoration efforts that ensure Tennesseans have the opportunity to legally hunt these animals.”

$3,000 in reward funding was donated by CORA, The Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation Pine Mountain Longbeards Chapter to support the investigation. Rewards are available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poacher. Information such as the individual’s name or description, vehicle tag number or description, and location of the offense greatly assist the TWRA in apprehending wildlife poachers.

All information received by TWRA is kept in strict confidence. Individuals with information about the poacher can contact the East Tennessee Regional Poaching Hotline at 1-800-831-1174.

Elk harvest is regulated by a quota permit system. The next application period for elk quota hunts is Feb 7-28, 2024. Nineteen quota permits are issued in designated Elk Hunt Zones. A legal deer hunter may harvest an elk incidental to deer hunting on private and public lands open to deer hunting except in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Scott, and Morgan Counties and except for Big South Fork River Recreation Area.

 For more information about legal elk hunting opportunities in Tennessee including quota hunt application dates and elk hunting units visit

Published in Feedbag
Thursday, 05 October 2023 21:20

Rangers pry bear cub from pet food container

Container_Cub_2.jpgTWRA is stressing the importance of being BearWise after removing a plastic pet feeder from a bear cub’s head this week in Blount County. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Wildlife agency advises people to be bear aware 

Matthew Cameron is a wildlife information specialist at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. 

MARYVILLE — Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is stressing the importance of being BearWise after recently removing a plastic pet feeder from a bear cub’s head. TWRA Black Bear Support Biologist Janelle Musser responded and promptly began a trapping effort. She was able to lure the cub into a trap, but was unable to trigger it with its mouth due to the container on its head. She moved the trap each time a new sighting was reported, even trying different style traps but the mother became trap shy and difficult to pattern.

Published in News
Monday, 02 October 2023 14:09

Sturgeonfest 2023

Join in a great event on Saturday, Oct. 7 for Sturgeonfest 2023 where you will have the opportunity to see the release of baby sturgeon into the French Broad River.
When: Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The sturgeon release will begin at 11 a.m. and there are 1,000 baby sturgeon to release.
Due to habitat degradation, barriers to migration, overharvest and pollution, lake sturgeon have been almost extirpated from much of the Southeast US for more than 50 years.
In 2015, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission joined surrounding states in the Southeast Lake Sturgeon Working Group in an effort to restore lake sturgeon to the Tennessee and Cumberland river systems.
Brood stock comes from the Wolf River in Wisconsin, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to collect eggs and milt for transportation and hatching at the Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery in Georgia.After hatching and growing, lake sturgeon are sent to the USFWS National Fish Hatchery at Edenton, N.C. and the Wildlife Commission’s Table Rock State Fish Hatchery for several months before release.
Approximately 2,000-9,000 juvenile lake sturgeon have been stocked annually in the French Broad River since 2015.
Dylan Owensby of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services says lake sturgeon are slow-growing, long-living fish. They might live up to 150 years and can grow more than 6 feet and up to 200 pounds. Females mature at 14 to 33 years of age and reproduce only once every four or more years. Males mature at 8 to 20 years of age. Sturgeon are bottom dwellers feeding on larval insects, crayfish and mollusks.
Learn more about lake sturgeon in the French Broad, watch Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s sturgeon reintroduction video and read other Hellbender articles on sturgeon.
If you are an angler in Tennessee and lucky enough to catch a sturgeon,  please let TWRA This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. know (as explained in the video linked above) specially if it is a lunker.
Published in Feedbag
Thursday, 24 August 2023 15:03

Conjuring life at Worthington Cemetery

IMG_7610.jpegJimmy Groton, a Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning board member, clears invasive plants at Worthington Cemetery in Oak Ridge during a volunteer work party in July.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press 

Volunteers nurture life in an Oak Ridge cemetery

OAK RIDGE — The northern corner here is a small place teeming with treasures, including the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area.

Elza Gate Park off Oak Ridge Turnpike, also known as Tennessee Highway 95, is the starting point for walking trails taking visitors through a cedar barren, a somewhat open habitat including eastern red cedars. The barrens include plants more similar to a prairie than many East Tennessee forests. The trail reaches a cemetery dating before the founding of Oak Ridge.

Woven together in this small area there is a natural mix of wildlife and historical preservation. Visitors to the loop trail will encounter a pine forest and a wetland area complete with a boardwalk to observe birds. Tennessee Valley Authority designated the land as both an Ecological Study Area and Small Wild Area.

Published in News
Tuesday, 15 August 2023 16:44

TWRA investigating fish kill on Pigeon River

TWRA logo with YouTube video start arrow

Officials mull farm runoff as possible cause

NEWPORT  Tennessee state conservation, agricultural and environment officials are investigating a widespread fish kill along the lower Pigeon River.

The probe began on Aug. 12 after Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officers noticed multiple species of dead fish along the river near Newport.

Aquatic life in the Pigeon River, a popular rafting, kayaking and fishing spot boasting big smallmouth bass, has steadily recovered following years of pollution from the upstream paper mill in Canton. The Pactiv Evergreen site permanently closed earlier this year, after it and previous owners drastically reduced the amount of effluent into the river. Fishing and whitewater sports rapidly took off from there.

TWRA didn’t immediately identify the reason for the fish kill, which remains under investigation, but alluded to sediment and agricultural runoff that spiked during heavy rains this month.

Here is the full news release from TWRA:

“The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are jointly investigating a fish kill on the Pigeon River above Newport. 

“On Friday, TWRA wildlife officers reported dead fish on the Pigeon River from Edwina Bridge down to the Newport police station.  TWRA fisheries biologists responded to the area documenting multiple species of dead fish at several locations. Based on the dispersal of the fish, recent water generation from the dam likely pushed them further downstream while leaving higher numbers of dead fish at the top of the kill zone.

“To determine potential contributing factors, biologists investigated the surrounding area and documented muddy runoff from agriculture fields likely caused by heavy rains in the area.

“TWRA biologists contacted the TDEC field office in Knoxville to assist with the incident and notified the Tennessee Department of Agriculture of the investigation. 

The incident currently remains under investigation.”

Published in Creature Features

wild-turkey-008-Eric-Lowery.jpgAmerican wild turkey populations have recovered from historic lows. TWRA still needs help managing the modern populations.  Courtesy Eric Lowery via Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA wants you to help build research on USA’s second bird

NASHVILLE — Benjamin Franklin only joked (we think) about making the wild turkey the national bird, but this summer you can help Tennessee with research on the turkey’s national history and renaissance.

Turkeys and bald eagles both grace the state and Southeast and have a notably parallel history of climbing from dire straits nationwide. 

The bald eagle became the national symbol on the U.S. seal in 1782

Declaration of Independence signer Franklin said he would have preferred a different bird. While he may have been joking, he never lobbied for it publicly. His comments in a letter to his daughter, Sarah, have become infamous.

“For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him … the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.” 

Published in News

Pine snake notice

Help TWRA save our pine snakes

NASHVILLE — If you see a vanishing northern pine snake, biologists with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) want to know.

One subspecies of the pine snake, (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus), lives in Tennessee. The snake is considered “threatened” by TWRA due to habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, and humans who kill the snakes because they mistake them for timber rattlesnakes.

Brian Flock, biodiversity coordinator for TWRA, said the reports will help the agency find out about the threatened snakes’ habitat and behavior.

“For years we’ve tried to find them. Because of their secretive nature, they’re hard to find,” he said. “We don’t know in Tennessee where they live, how they move around, those kinds of things.” He said they mostly seem to exist in West Tennessee but have been spotted as far east as Knoxville. TWRA, he said, may use the public’s information to add radio tracking devices to the snakes.

Published in News

IMG 1486

KNOXVILLE — Volunteer registration is open for the 34th Ijams River Rescue on Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A severe weather date is set for Saturday, April 22.

Ijams Nature Center’s annual event removes tons of trash and tires from sites along the Tennessee River and its creek tributaries. Sites are typically located in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties.

“During this cleanup, between 500-1,000 volunteers come together to make a tangible, positive difference in their community,” Ijams Development Director Cindy Hassil said. “It’s eye-opening to participate because you really get to see what ends up in our waterways. Hopefully it makes people more aware of how they dispose of trash and recyclables, and inspires them to look for ways to reduce the amount of waste they create.”

There are cleanup sites on land, along the shoreline (boots/waders recommended) and on the water (personal kayaks/canoes required).

Published in Water

Falcon 7 2048x1492Lamar bestows a kiss on one of her raptors. John Partipilo via Tennessee Lookout

Judge rules that Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency grossly overstepped its bounds following citizen complaint

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

NASHVILLE — Holly Lamar, a master falconer and owner of a Nashville “bird experience” business, has a story to tell about each one of her 13 captive-bred birds of prey.

The story behind Faith, a 7-year-old peregrine falcon, is tied to a particularly rough patch for Lamar, who experienced success as a Grammy-nominated songwriter, then lost nearly everything. The 20-day-old chick arrived just after Lamar fell victim to a financial scam that wiped out earnings from her music career.

She picked the name “Faith” to symbolize the feelings of trust she was trying to regain in her life — and as a nod to Faith Hill, the country singer who recorded “Breathe,” a 1999 megahit co-written by Lamar. 

Faith, the falcon, is now dead — one of 13 falcons seized by officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in a sweeping August search of Lamar’s home and property that a Nashville judge later characterized as “egregious,” an “abuse of the law” and a violation of Lamar’s constitutional rights.

Published in News

This bald eagle was shot but successfully rehabbed at Memphis Zoo

STEWART COUNTY — April 8, 2022  Return to the wild!

Published in Creature Features
Friday, 24 September 2021 13:32

Another slice of the wild preserved in Cumberlands

Knox News: Nearly 12,000 acres added to Skinner Mountain preserve on the Cumberland Plateau

The Conservation Fund and state wildlife and forestry officials reached a deal to conserve and manage thousands of wild acres in Fentress County.

The expanse was previously held by an out-of-state speculative investment company likely originally tied to timber companies.

The Cumberland Plateau and escarpments have been increasingly recognized for their biodiversity along with the Smokies to the east beyond the Tennessee Valley. The Cumberlands are along a songbird and fowl migration route, and host a niche population of mature timber, mosses, lichens, fungi, mammals and amphibians. Elk were reintroduced a decade ago, and black bears have begun to range across the Cumberlands and their base.

The area is pocked with caves and sinkholes, some containing petroglyphs and other carvings from previous populations.

"On the Cumberland Plateau, the key to maintaining biodiversity is to retain as much natural forest (both managed and unmanaged) as possible," a forestry expert told the News Sentinel's Vincent Gabrielle.

The Foothills Land Conservancy has also helped protect thousands of acres along the plateau and its escarpments in recent years.

Published in Feedbag
Friday, 20 August 2021 17:17

State’s fight against Asian carp scales up

WATE: Commercial fishing pulls out 10 million pounds of exotic carp from Tennessee River system

If you never thought there’d be an Asian carp commercial fishery in Tennessee waters, you were wrong.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program has yielded 10 million pounds of the exotic fish since 2018, the bulk caught downstream on the Tennessee River system at Kentucky and Barkly reservoirs. The fish has been spotted as far upstream as Knox and Anderson counties.

The Tennessee Valley Authority and TWRA are experimenting with acoustic barriers to prevent further upstream spread of the fish, which compete with native fish for food and habitat.

“There are four types of Asian carp: bighead, silver, black and grass,” WATE reported. “Experts say the species threatens to disrupt aquatic ecosystems and starve out native species due to their ability to out-compete native species for food like plankton.”

So what do fishermen do with 10 million pounds of carp?

It can be sold to wholesalers for distribution abroad and also makes for really good fertilizer.

Published in Feedbag

Duck RiverMarshall CoThis biologically rich stretch of the Duck River could soon be the site of a large municipal water intake facility.

Duck River targeted by thirsty, growing municipalities in Nashville area

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout

Marshall County, located outside what was once considered the boundary edge of growing suburbs circling Nashville, has seen explosive growth of its own in recent years — call it the Williamson County overflow effect, says County Mayor Mike Keny.

Drawn by more affordable housing, jobs and the rural character of the county — about an hour from Nashville in the “heart of the Southern Automotive Corridor” (as local economic development officials call it) — the influx of residents, and some relocating business and industry, has brought new urgency to a long-standing reality.

The county doesn’t have its own water supply. For decades, it has had to pay wholesale for drinking water from the cities of Murfreesboro and Lewisburg. That supply is no longer adequate.

A new proposal by county officials calls for building a water treatment facility along the banks of the Duck River in northern Marshall County capable of siphoning up to 6 million gallons of water per day; establish a reliable local water supply for decades to come.

The need for Marshall County,  to have its own water supply, which it has never had, is becoming more urgent with an influx of new residents. But environmental activists say the nearby Duck River, which is biologically diverse, may not be the best option.  
Published in Water