Conservation groups to sue over failure to protect Pa.’s state amphibian, the hellbender

Hellbender photo by Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity

Conservation groups to sue over failure to protect Pa.’s state amphibian, the hellbender, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Marcus Schneck, March 8, 2021

“Hellbenders are like the canary in the coal mine. This ancient species is now almost gone from much of Appalachian streams because they are incredibly sensitive to pollutants and the destruction of their habitats when smothered by sediment,” said Morgan Johnson, a staff attorney at Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “Hellbenders are usually the first species to vanish when clean mountain streams are contaminated and disturbed.”

John Zaktansky, executive director of the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, added, “Hellbenders thrive best in clean streams and creeks and provide an important litmus test for water-quality concerns, but we have seen a steep decline in their numbers within the middle Susquehanna watershed.