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Endangered Species Act decisions reached for hellbender, green salamander

Hellbender. File photo Hellbender. File photo

The eastern hellbender does not deserve listing under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided, but the Hickory Nut Gorge green salamander, which was first described as a unique species in 2019, warrants a status review to consider listing. 

The findings followed a review of petitions the agency had received requesting that these species be listed. The USFWS found that the petition seeking listing for the hellbender, a large, aquatic salamander that occurs in cool, permanent streams in 15 states, did not provide “substantial scientific or commercial information” indicating that listing is warranted.

“All of the information provided by the petitioner was already considered in our 2019 12-month finding for the species in which we determined that listing is not warranted (84 FR 13223; April 4, 2019),” the decision reads. “We are not initiating a status review of this species in response to this petition. However, we ask that the public submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats to, this species or its habitat at any time.”

The agency came to a different decision regarding the Hickory Nut Gorge green salamander, which is found in hardwood and cove forests in the Hickory Nut Gorge of Western North Carolina. It determined that the salamander, along with eight other species from a variety of habitats and locations all over the U.S., warranted a status review to determine whether listing is warranted. The USFWS must decide whether listing is warranted within one year of the petition being received. If it decides the species deserves listing, this finding can be incorporated into a proposed listing or, if higher-priority listing activities prevent such prompt action, the species will be added to a list of candidates for listing.

These findings are now available in the Federal Register Reading Room at federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.   

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