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Buffalo National River Mammals

The richness and diversity of the mammal population within Buffalo National River is a product of the complexity and variety of habitats. Riparian habitats (lush cane, shrubs and trees) found along the river's edge, rich green open-field environments, wooded hillsides and dry glades and rocky outcroppings are just a few of the unique habitats that provide a niche for the mammal species found within the park.

Buffalo National River is known to have more than 55 species of mammals; three are endangered bats that live within the caves and abandoned mines within the park. Many mammal extinctions have occurred in the Ozark mountains during the last 200 years. Eastern Bison, cougar, red wolf, and grey wolf are only a few of the extinct species once found within what is now known as Buffalo National River. Eastern Elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) is another mammal that no longer occurs within the park. The Eastern Elk ranged from the northern boreal forest to the southern hardwood forests of Arkansas, and went extinct around 1840 due to over hunting and habitat loss.

In 1981, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began an Elk Restoration Project that has been an overwhelming success, and now special-permit hunting is required to keep the ever-growing population in balance. Visitors to the park can see the elk most frequently in the late winter and early spring in the meadows of Boxley Valley along the upper reaches of the river.

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