Unknown Danger: Large and Slimy Salamander
Polar bears and giant pandas receive a lot of attention in conservation circles — and rightly so, since these adorable animals need protection. But what about all the creatures that aren't so popular or endearing? This week, we'll take a look at some little-known species that also need some serious help.
The slimy, two-foot-long hellbender hides beneath rocks in stream beds in southern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas. It measures in at the largest salamander in North America. Declining water quality and increased silt have caused marked drops in the populations and a highly infectious disease called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis worsened the problem in Missouri. A study revealed that the chytrid fungus occurs in all the remaining populations in the state. Luckily, a team of researchers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and staff from hatcheries and zoos is working to combat the problem through field work, captive propagation, outreach, and a watershed protection proposal. You can help by joining stream cleanup efforts (like the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels) and eliminating the use of pesticides or other pollutants that can run into waterways.
Read more: They both have names from Hades, but what else do Ozark Hellbenders and Tasmanian Devils have in common?
--photo courtesy of FWS