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article imageEndangered status sought for the Eastern hellbender

By Karen Graham     Nov 24, 2014 in Environment
Albany - They may be so ugly that only a mother could love them. The Eastern hellbender is an aquatic salamander indigenous to Eastern North America, They play an important role in their ecosystem, both as predator and prey. But now, they need our protection.
On Thursday, November 20, the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice filed a petition in Albany with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, asking that the hellbender salamander be "added to the list of endangered or threatened species."
The hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), is a species of giant salamander endemic to Eastern North America. People might be more familiar with the name "water dog," "devil dog," "mud-devil," or "mud-dog," when talking about this creature that can grow to two-feet in length.
It's really not clear where the hellbender name came from. It is thought to be a name given them by early settlers that thought "it was a creature from hell where it's bent on returning." Nevertheless, the hellbender is a harmless creature.
In New York state, the hellbender is only found in the river drainage regions of the Allegheny and Susquehanna. Over the past few decades, populations have dropped by half in the Allegheny drainage, and they have become nearly extinct in the Susquehanna drainage.
To date, the hellbender salamander have been listed as "a species of concern" in New York. It is listed as being "threatened" in Alabama, and in Maryland, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, the hellbender is listed as "endangered." Declines in the hellbender population in all these states has been blamed on the damming of streams, along with pollution and siltation of the streams.
More about Endangered species, eastern hellbender, eastern us, aquatic salamander, drop in population
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