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PA Senate Resumes Push To Recognize Eastern Hellbender As The State's Official Amphibian

Peter Petokas
Hellbenders face habitat loss and other pressures in the 11 other mostly Eastern states where they live in swift-flowing, rocky rivers and streams.

 Pennsylvania's Senate is resuming a push to make the Eastern hellbender the state's official amphibian, an effort to highlight the plight of a creature whose numbers researchers say are declining because of pollution in rivers and streams.

The bill emerged unanimously Tuesday from a Senate committee. A previous bill died last year in the House, where it encountered competing legislation promoting the Wehrle's salamander.

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, fast streams with rocks to live under.

Wehrle's salamander legislation hasn't been re-introduced. The common salamander is a few inches in length and found in upland forests across the eastern United States.

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