Photo by Brian Gratwicke - originally posted to Flickr as Hellbender
They are a species of concern, on the brink of going on the endangered species list, but even when they were common in the Susquehanna basin, the salamanders known as Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) kept a low profile.
That’s because these amphibious river dwellers — the largest salamanders in North America — very rarely venture onto dry land, and in the rivers they lurk under large, flat rocks, experts say.
Now, a nonprofit organization, the Wetland Trust, is working to restore Hellbendersto local rivers.
Joining in the effort are the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State University College Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Locally, the Otsego County Soil and Conservation Service and the Otsego County Conservation Association are also doing their share to facilitate the efforts.
“The Hellbenders in New York are just about gone, for reasons we’re not sure why,” said Jim Curatolo, the chairman of the Wetland Trust and the retired director of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition of Conservation Districts.