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

Support all children — pass the Down Syndrome Protection Act
To the Editor:
In May 2003, my beautiful daughter, Chloe, was born. Shortly after her birth, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. During my wife’s pregnancy, we were...

Read more »
Image

Learn about jewelry, from ancient to modern times
— Through just about all of history, jewelry has been a way to show off — or escape — our social or economic class.
Read more »
Image

Scholarships offered by Pocono Arts Council
STROUDSBURG — The Pocono Arts Council is offering two $500 scholarships for graduating seniors in music and visual art who plan to...
Read more »
Image

DVMS Students of the Month for November
Pictured are the Delaware Valley Middle School Students of the Month for November: Joseph Gianesses, Karter Peereboom, Ryan Baka, Riley McKenzie, and Addison Kidney. (Photo...
Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST READ

Where in clues
Pike's Peek
  • Mar 21, 2019
Local News
DVMS Students of the Month for November
  • Mar 21, 2019

MOST COMMENTED



Weather in Milford, PA