SUNBURY – You may scoff at last week’s announcement of the Eastern Hellbender named Pennsylvania’s new state amphibian, but in this case, it’s more than just a trivial designation. It’s hoped the designation may help save the species from extinction.
Dr. Pete Petokas is a Research Associate at Lycoming College specializing in amphibian conservation and he says naming the hellbender the state amphibian can help bring awareness to a threatened species, particularly in our Susquehanna River basin, “We only have about five percent of what might have been there 150 years ago. But it’s a problem across the entire range of the animals from New York down to Georgia. It’s not just in Pennsylvania.”
Dr. Petokas says a major reason why hellbenders are dying out is because many of the state’s streams are threatened, “Hellbenders would require fast, clean, cool water, in streams that have a diverse habitat structure to it. In Pennsylvania, many of our streams have lost good water quality, either by human activities or losses due to the historic logging industry in Pennsylvania.”
Hear more from Petokas at WKOK.com. We’ll have the ‘legislator’s eye view’ on the hellbender designation, in future newscasts. (Matt Catrillo)
Here our interview with Dr. Petokas here: