Over 50 species of mammals live in Shenandoah National Park. Virtually all park visitors see some mammals, such as white-tailed deer and gray squirrels. Others, like the big brown bat, striped and spotted skunks are more elusive, remaining largely out of sight until darkness falls. Black bears and bobcats, though active during the day, seem to remain hidden deep in the forest. The smallest mammals (moles, voles, and shrews) found in the park are rarely seen because they spend much of their lives underground or hidden under leaves and low growing plants. Careful observation should bring rewards in finding most of the wild inhabitants of the park.
Just as the number and distribution of mammals varies somewhat from year to year, the number of species present in the park changes over time. Coyotes, an adaptable predator not native to Virginia, are continuing to expand their range eastward and have been documented in the park. In addition, although not substantiated by park staff observations, reports of cougar sightings are received regularly from the public. Cougars, believed to have been eliminated from the park decades ago, may be recovering naturally or may have expanded into the park from re-introductions elsewhere.