Eastern Hellbender

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.

Associated Press

HARRISBURG — There’s another salamander vying to become Pennsylvania’s official amphibian.

House Republican leader Dave Reed circulated a memo Thursday seeking support for forthcoming legislation to make Wehrle’s salamander the state’s official amphibian.

His memo appeared a day after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to make the Eastern hellbender the official amphibian of Pennsylvania.

Researchers say the Eastern hellbender’s population is shrinking in Pennsylvania and other eastern states because of pollution and habitat deterioration. The hellbender lives in rivers and streams and can grow longer than 2 feet.

Reed’s memo says Wehrle’s salamander was discovered by and named after a late naturalist, R.W. Wehrle, in Reed’s hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Researchers say Wehrle’s salamander is common. It is a few inches in length and found in upland forests across the eastern United States.

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