Eastern Hellbender Gets Senate OK as Official Pennsylvania Amphibian - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Eastern Hellbender Gets Senate OK as Official Pennsylvania Amphibian

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    Eastern Hellbender Gets Senate OK as Official Pennsylvania Amphibian
    Peter Petokas/AP
    This undated photo provided by Peter Petokas, a research associate at the Clean Water Institute of Lycoming College's biology department, shows an adult Eastern hellbender, 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. Pennsylvania's state Senate passed legislation on a 47-2 vote Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, to make the Eastern hellbender the official amphibian of Pennsylvania, as researchers say its population is shrinking because of pollution. The bill heads to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

    The state Senate is advancing legislation to make the Eastern hellbender the official amphibian of Pennsylvania, as researchers say its population is shrinking because of pollution.

    The bill passed, 47-2, and heads to the House.

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

    Researchers from Lycoming College in Williamsport say hellbenders live in rivers and streams throughout much of Pennsylvania, except for the Delaware River watershed. But they say the hellbender population is declining Pennsylvania because of mine drainage and sedimentation.

    Hellbenders don't have federal protected status, although some states give them protected status. Pennsylvania does not.