More than 200 eastern hellbenders will be released into Ohio streams in an ongoing effort to offset a decline in the endangered aquatic salamander.
The Toledo Zoo will participate in releasing the endangered salamanders into Ohio River and Muskingum River drainages next week as part of the Ohio Hellbender Partnership. Hellbenders are native to the state. But they are endangered in Ohio primarily because they are very susceptible to pollution, siltation and general disturbance of their stream-bed habitat. The Toledo Blade reports the zoo hatches hellbender eggs collected from the wild and raises the young until they are large enough to avoid most predators. Surveys of hellbenders in the late 1980s and again in the late 2000's showed an estimated population decline of 82 percent.