House, Senate showdown over official Pennsylvania amphibian

This July 26, 2014, photo provided by Peter Petokas, a research associate at the Clean Water Institute of Lycoming College’s biology department, shows an adult female Eastern hellbender, an aquatic salamander that can grow up to two feet long, making them the largest North American amphibian according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Pennsylvania’s state Senate passed legislation on a 47-2 vote Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, to make the Eastern hellbender the official amphibian of Pennsylvania, as researchers say its population is shrinking because of pollution. The bill heads to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. (Peter Petokas via AP)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — There’s another salamander vying to become Pennsylvania’s official amphibian.

House Republican leader Dave Reed circulated a memo Thursday to chamber members seeking support for forthcoming legislation to make Wehrle’s salamander the state’s official amphibian.

His memo appeared a day after the Senate overwhelmingly voted to make the Eastern hellbender the official amphibian of Pennsylvania.

Researchers say the Eastern hellbender’s population is shrinking in Pennsylvania and other eastern states because of pollution and habitat deterioration. The hellbender lives in rivers and streams and can grow longer than two feet.

Reed’s memo says Wehrle’s salamander was discovered by and named after a late naturalist, R.W. Wehrle, in Reed’s hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Researchers say Wehrle’s salamander is common. It is a few inches in length and found in upland forests across the eastern United States.

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