Push resumes push to recognize official Pennsylvania amphibian


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos



  • The Eastern hellbender (Photo by Dave Herasimtschuk, U.S. Department of Agriculture: usda.gov)



"The Eastern hellbender exemplifies what is good about Pennsylvania's waterways."
PA Sen. Gene Yaw


By Marc Levy

The Pennsylvania Senate renewed its push to make a slimy and unsightly salamander the state's official amphibian in an effort to highlight the plight of a creature whose numbers researchers say are declining rapidly because of pollution in rivers and streams.

The Senate on Feb. 5 approved the bill in support of the Eastern hellbender, 48-1.

If approved by the state House, the salamander would join such creatures as the whitetail deer as the Pennsylvania state animal and the Great Dane as the state dog. The Senate passed an Eastern hellbender bill last year, but it died in the House, where it encountered competing legislation promoting the Wehrle's salamander.

The sponsor of the hellbender bill, Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, said members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's student leadership council came up with the idea and Lycoming College's Clean Water Institute helped draft it.

“Because the Eastern hellbender exemplifies what is good about Pennsylvania's waterways, it is the perfect selection to become the official state amphibian," Yaw said during his remarks on the Senate floor. “It is an excellent natural indicator of good water quality."

The hellbender is an aquatic salamander that can grow up to two feet long, making them the largest North American amphibian, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. They are nocturnal and prefer shallow, clear and fast streams with rocks to live under.

Its jarring appearance has inspired a range of nicknames, including mud devil, devil dog, ground puppy, snot otter, lasagna lizard and Allegheny alligator, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said hellbenders were plentiful in Pennsylvania as recently as 1990. Their numbers have since been decimated in Eastern states by pollution and sedimentation, researchers say. Hellbenders don't have federal protected status, although some states give them protected status. Pennsylvania does not.

The Wehrle's legislation has not been reintroduced in the House. Wehrle's salamander was said to be discovered by and named after a late naturalist, R.W. Wehrle, in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Researchers say Wehrle's salamander is common. It is a few inches in length and found in upland forests across the eastern United States.





Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Lackawaxen VFW to hold Memorial Day chicken barbecue
The Lackawaxen VFW Post 5635 is holding its annual Memorial Day chicken barbecue from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 26.
The menu includes a half-chicken, potato salad, three-bean...

Read more »
Image

Spend time in cars? Don't forget skin protection
For most people, car safety means seat belts and airbags. But there's another important way to stay safe on the road, and that's by protecting your skin from the sun.
A study...

Read more »
Image

Church group offers political primary day luncheon

MILFORD – The Women’s Association of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Milford (EPC) will be holding a Primary Election Day Soup and Sandwich Luncheon on...

Read more »
Image

ESU to launch region's only graduate program in accounting
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor Daniel Greenstein approved a master’s degree in accounting for East Stroudsburg University of...
Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST READ

Local News
Combining Brewing and Farming
  • May 17, 2019

MOST COMMENTED



Weather in Milford, PA