The NC Wildlife Resources Commission is asking for the public’s help in finding North Carolina’s disappearing giant salamander species, the elusive hellbenders and mudpuppies.
The increasingly rare creatures are extremely sensitive to poor water quality since they breath through their skin, which is a large reason for their steady decline, along with overall habitat loss.
The “snot otter” or “Alleghany alligator” averages about 16 to 17 inches in length, with some adults growing to over 24 inches long.
According to the press release, “hellbenders are listed as species of special concern in North Carolina. Because of this listing, it is illegal to take, possess, transport or sell a hellbender or to attempt to do so. A violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in a fine and up to 120 days in jail.”
“We know less about mudpuppies than we do about hellbenders, but we’d like to know much more about both,” said Lori Williams, a wildlife diversity biologist with the Wildlife Commission. “Challenging logistics in lake systems have made it difficult for us to conduct mudpuppy population surveys, but those habitats may be hot spots. Mudpuppies are attracted to baited hooks in lakes and deep rivers, so anglers fishing from boats may catch one. We need anyone who fishes deep river sites and impounded waters to let us know if they find one.”
If you find one, please email the location and a picture and physical location or GPS coordinates to to Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Commission Wildlife Interaction Helpline (866) 318-2401.