Becky Denney
September 23, 2010

Help us Save the Ozark Hellbender!

   

We want you to comment to the US Fish & Wildlife to list the Ozark Hellbender as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed to list the Ozark Hellbender Salamander as an Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act. This would be a very important step to protect this unique species native to Missouri. Please send your comments to them in support of this action by November 8.

To make a comment click here and use the Federal eRulemaking Portal. The Docket Number for the US Fish and wildlife service is FWS-R3-ES-2009-0009. To read the complete proposal, click here.

Here are some reasons you may use when you ask them to list the Ozark Hellbender as an Endangered Species:

  • The Ozark Hellbender is a unique, fascinating animal well adapted to the Ozark streams which it has historically inhabited. It is a long lived salamander whose presence in a stream indicates the stream is a healthy aquatic system rich in oxygen content, low in pollutants with a cool temperature.
  • Low population numbers in various streams historically known as Ozark Hellbender habitat indicate these streams have been modified and indicate unacceptable water quality for our Ozark streams.
  • There are few larvae Ozark Hellbenders in their historical habitat which shows low numbers of reproduction in the wild or may show that their habitat is too degraded for young individuals to survive.
  • An ongoing plan for careful research and protection needs to be developed, implemented and continued.
  • Constant vigilance and enforcement to protect the Ozark Hellbender must be enacted to protect this species from illegal collection and use in the pet trade.
  • Observed examples of the Ozark Hellbender show that all populations are susceptible to injury from human activities in the cool streams they inhabit whether from overuse of the streams for commercial activities such as ore and gravel mining, from poor stream bank protection or from building of lakes.
  • The long term presence of chytridiomycosis in streams that contain Hellbenders may mean that the other stresses which we can control such as water quality, chemical pollution and sedimentation are more critical to the health of the Hellbender than the fungus itself.
  • The Eastern Hellbender should be listed as an endangered species as well as the Ozark Hellbender since they are so similar in appearance. To treat one subspecies of Hellbender different from another could be detrimental to the existence of either or both Hellbender subspecies.
  • Blocks of critical habitat must be designated to ensure the survival of the Ozark Hellbender in the wild.

It is critical that we protect this amphibian immediately from these historic and present stresses so that, as global warming changes some of our cool Ozark streams, populations of the Ozark Hellbender may have the best chance to maintain themselves.

You may mail comments to:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2009-0009 Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N.Fairfax Drive, Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203

Comments will be public and posted on http://www.regulations.gov.

 

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has also proposed to protect both the Ozark Hellbender and the Eastern Hellbender from illegal international trade. To comment on this you must use a different Docket Number and make a 2nd comment.

To make this additional comment click here and use the Federal eRulemaking Portal. The Docket Number for this proposal is FWS-R9-IA-2009-003. This is a request to list the Hellbender, both the Ozark Hellbender and the Eastern Hellbender in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in  Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

To read that proposed rule click here, download the pdf to find Page 54579.

Here are two arguments to use for this second comment:

• Constant vigilance and enforcement to protect the Ozark Hellbender must be enacted to protect this species from illegal collection and use in the pet trade.
• Illegal collection added to the stresses of degraded water quality, sedimentation and chemical pollution may cause us to lose our Ozark Hellbenders as a species within 20 years.

As we plan our campaign to Save the Ozark Hellbender we will add additional information to this website, so check it often.

You may also contact me for more information:
Becky Denney
EMG Conservation Chair
314-645-3394
Dardenney@sbcglobal.net