Wildlife conservation benefits common species. hellbender can change the following: NPR


Peter Petokas, of the Clean Water Institute at Lycoming College, and Michelle Hermann, of The Wetland Trust, together with a young hellboy they helped raise in captivity were released in 2018.

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Peter Petokas, of the Clean Water Institute at Lycoming College, and Michelle Hermann, of The Wetland Trust, together with a young hellboy they helped raise in captivity were released in 2018.

Laura Binshoff / NPR

Binghamton, NY – A bald eagle soaring spectacularly. Grizzly roar is amazing. swimming hell? You may not be able to visualize it.

On a recent hot summer day, biologist Michelle Hermann carefully surveyed this rare giant salamander for invasive fungi from a tributary of the Susquehanna River. She’s part of a small group of biologists, state wildlife technicians, and volunteers who support Hell in this region, where their numbers have fallen sharply.

“They don’t have many advocates, so I’m glad to be an advocate for hell,” says Hermann, who works for The Wetland Trust, a conservation nonprofit.

Some notable species, such as the bald eagle, are conservation success stories. But thousands of less attractive species are competing for scarce resources in the United States, where up to one million species are at risk of extinction worldwide, according to the United nations.

Amphibians, such as hellbenders, decline for a number of reasons from Habitat destruction due to climate change. Hellbenders live under giant boulders in clean, fast-moving streams, where they love to eat crayfish. Hermann says their presence is evidence of good water quality.

Current federal funding for conservation covers only about 5% of what is needed to help the more than 12,000 “species most in need of conservation,” including hell, according to the Alliance for Fish and Wildlife of America.


Hellbenders live under giant rocks in the riverbed. Petukas and a college student use snorkeling equipment to try to find them.

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Hellbenders live under giant rocks in the riverbed. Petukas and a college student use snorkeling equipment to try to find them.

Laura Binshoff / NPR

The species champions here so far have gathered resources from the Bronx Zoo and elsewhere to breed them in captivity, tag them with electronic chips, and return them to the wild. But they have also tried a number of unconventional tactics to raise the animal’s image and attract conservation funding.

Peter Petokas, Research Associate in the Clean Water Institute at Lycoming College, created crowdfunding page in order to work. His work helped inspire a group of high school students who lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to proclaim it official state amphibians.

“They borrowed my Hellbender costumeWhich is really cool,” says Petukas. After two years of questioning elected officials, the students succeeded. But none of this has led to more funding, he says.


Hellbenders have many nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including “lasagna lizard”, “snot otter” and “Allegheny alligator”.

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Hellbenders have many nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including “lasagna lizard”, “snot otter” and “Allegheny alligator”.

Laura Binshoff / NPR

Federal funding tends to be geared toward game types

Since the 1930s, the United States has taxed hunting and licenses, as well as guns, ammunition, and other equipment, to raise money for conservation. In 1950, this model was expanded to include fishing licenses and equipment with Dingell Johnson Law.

As a result, money often goes to species that hunters and hunters care about, such as deer and elk, says Mike Leahy, director of wildlife, hunting and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation.

“There has been a gap in access to funding for the species that are not being hunted and caught,” he says.

But many of the species identified as in need of conservation have a less direct relationship to humans. according to US Department of the Interior.

Many conservationists talk about losing these species as flying a plane while slowly removing each nail, or a game of Jenga. Every single gold weakens entire ecosystems. But others prefer to think positively of saving as an investment.

“I think the true value of preserving truly rare and unique species is that they exist in the future, for all to enjoy,” Petukas says.


Hell is waiting for his health check in a bowl of river water. The animals are fully aquatic and breathe through ornate folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

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Hell is waiting for his health check in a bowl of river water. The animals are fully aquatic and breathe through ornate folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

Laura Binshoff / NPR

Bill to provide more funding has bipartisan support

Wildlife advocates hope this imbalance will soon change. A bill called the Restoration of America’s Wildlife Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this summer, would significantly increase how much the federal government spends to protect US wildlife by Create an annual $1.3 billion protection fund.

Led by Senators Martin Heinrich (DN.M) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), the Senate bill has more than 40 sponsors, including 16 Republicans.

“By preserving wildlife habitats, we will also preserve outdoor recreation activities such as hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing that support millions of additional jobs,” said Blunt. Earlier this year.


A wildlife technician at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation brings two Hellfires back to the rocks in the stream where they live.

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A wildlife technician at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation brings two Hellfires back to the rocks in the stream where they live.

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The money will go to the states and tribal governments to decide how to spend it. The law will also require that 15% of the amount supports endangered species on the federal list. But it is not clear whether the bill, which still must come with a source of funding to offset the cost of increased conservation spending, will come to a vote this year.

“If he passes, [it] It will really change the paradigm. “It would be an absolute game-changer,” says Sarina Jepsen, director of the Endangered Species Program at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization that specializes in invertebrate conservation.

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