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What kind of wildlife can you see at local parks?

Kellen Moore

Local parks aren’t just good places for people to go – they also attract dozens of animal types.

Parks that include water, such as Wallace Park’s Burnt Mill Creek, have an even wider array of plant and animal life.

“The total list of animal species in that one park would be likely in the hundreds, if you include the animals without backbones,” said Andy Wood, education director for N.C. Audubon, a research and conservation program for state habitats.

There are numerous types of fish, insects, birds, frogs and lizards, as well as larger animals, Wood said. A few of the more unusual critters you might see at Wallace and other parks include: 

American alligator

Southeastern five-lined skink – a large, harmless lizard with an electric-blue tail

Golden silk spider – a large spider that has moved up the coast as climates warm

Blue crabs – they can stand low saltwater levels, so they will be found inland up to about the Black River

Eels – especially during February, when 2- to 3-inch eels about the size of a pencil lead migrate up the creek in the tens of thousands

Snakes – most commonly the black racer, although there could also be a red-bellied watersnake, corn snake or rat snake. It’s unlikely that a venomous snake would be there.

One reader mentioned seeing an otter or beaver in the area, and Wood said the habitat, which includes lots of fish, makes it more likely an otter. But beaver do live near Anne McCrary Lake, he said.

You also could spot muskrat, raccoon, possum, fox or even coyote if you go at the right time.

As the economic situation leads to less maintenance and pesticide use, even more flora and fauna might emerge, Wood said, making the parks a great place for people to enjoy the natural world.

“It’s an opportunity for little kids to find really interesting backyard wildlife they can enjoy safely and learn more about,” he said.

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One Response to “ What kind of wildlife can you see at local parks?”

  1. On October 26, 2010 at 10:24 pm Mark Umscheid wrote:

    Your previous reply to wildlife at area parks surprised me, in that you mentioned of possible seeing Coyotes. I live at Kure Beach, on the outskirts of the “buffer zone” of woods that spans from Kure Beach to the otherside of the Cape fear River. I have heard of several residents say they have spotted a lone Coyote in the early morning hours. I know plenty of deer and foxes and other wildlife come out of these woods at night, but I am surprised to hear you that coyotes inhabit the area. If they do, are they indigenous to this area? Also, I have heard reports of long-time residents spotting Bobcats in the Fort Fisher area in the past. Could bobcat also have inhabited this area in the recent past?