Surrounded by urban areas, Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides a refuge for wildlife. The park's 33,000 acres contain forest, field, river, and wetland habitats that offer food, water, shelter, and open space to wild animals. The park's fragmented configuration and land use history have a strong effect on the types of wildlife found here.
The park's diverse wildlife is readily apparent. Any trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers opportunities for viewing wild animals in their natural setting, from painted turtles sunbathing on submerged logs to wild turkeys wandering across open fields. With populations that have increased an average of 9% per year over the past 12 years, white-tailed deer are the most visible mammal in the park, congregating in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Previous park studies have discovered 194 species of birds, 91 aquatic macroinvertebrates, 56 butterfly species, 43 fish, 32 mammals, 22 amphibians, and 20 species of reptiles.
Since Cuyahoga Valley National Park's establishment as a national park, several species that were extirpated from the park long ago have naturally reestablished themselves. Industrious beavers build their lodges and dams on many of the park's streams and ponds. Coyotes, the masters of adaptation, have made their way back to the Cuyahoga Valley after a long absence. Other species are using the park in ways they haven't in the past. Great blue herons, never before known to breed in the park, now raise their young in two boisterous rookeries along the Cuyahoga River.
In its role as a refuge, Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides a home or a stopover point for several threatened and endangered species. A federally endangered Indiana bat was found within park boundaries in July 2002, the first instance of that species ever recorded in the park. Non-breeding bald eagles, which are federally threatened, have been seen perched high above the Cuyahoga River during winter months. Nineteen bird species that are considered threatened or endangered by the state of Ohio breed in the park or pass through during migration