Federal agency finds Ozark hellbender endangered
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A federal agency has declared the Ozark hellbender an endangered species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule on Wednesday that places the aquatic salamander in the endangered category.
The amphibian lives in streams in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri and can reach two feet in length.
The agency says the main threat to the Ozark hellbender is damage to its habitat from mining, animal operations and fertilizer runoff.
The environmental group Center for Biological Diversity petitioned in 2004 for the hellbender's protection. The group says the endangered distinction will help the salamander survive but says Fish and Wildlife should also have designated areas of critical habitat to prevent further degradation to where the hellbender lives.
The hellbender is known by many nicknames, including "snot otter."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
This article originally appeared here.
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