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Purdue researchers are looking into the disappearance of hellbenders in the U.S. They are hoping to prevent the complete loss of the salamanders.
"These are animals that live up to 30 years in the wild, so if you have populations declining, that alerts us that there could be a problem with the water quality," Rod Williams, a Purdue University associate professor of herpetology, told the Associated Press.
Others agreed that the quality of the rivers they once inhabited could be the reason for their disappearance, according to American Live Wire. Scientists are looking at whether the salamanders are remaining at dams, or moving to rocky nooks and crannies that some young hellbenders utilize as shelter.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessed the presence of the eastern hellbenders, which live in 16 states. The Ozark hellbender, another kind of salamander, only lives in Missouri and Arkansas.
It’s not yet known if federal money will be used to protect the habitat of the salamanders. Wildlife officials are reaching out to the general public about the salamanders to prevent difficulties in the future. Researchers have asked landowners to plant trees and grasses along the water where they live.