Working to save the hellbenders

Call them snot otters, devil dogs, mud cats, mollyhuggers or Allegheny alligators but a team of Ohio conservationists are dedicated to making certain the endangered eastern hellbender is never called extinct.

The first release of human-reared hellbenders in Ohio occurred on June 15 and marks an important step in the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Conservation Plan to reverse the precipitous decline of the species by expanding their range into previously occupied streams to eventually establish multiple self-sustaining populations in Ohio.

The nine released hellbenders were reared in a dedicated hellbender facility at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from eggs collected in 2007 by the Oglebay Good Zoo (Wheeling, WV). They were released into a stream in eastern Ohio where hellbenders were once found. The stream was once severely impacted by pollution but has since recovered and is one of the highest quality waterways in the state.

Scientists from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources released the hellbenders after Zoo veterinarians performed health screenings and surgically implanted radio-transmitters to enable the animals to be tracked. Blood samples and skin swabs will be collected from the released hellbenders at the end of the summer and compared with those collected prior to the release. Veterinarians from the Columbus Zoo and the Wilds have been conducting research on the health of Ohio and West Virginia hellbenders since 2006. Data from this project will inform future hellbender reintroductions in Ohio.

CEO TO SPEAK AT WORKSHOP – Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO Steve Allen, MD, will serve as co-chair of the first Transforming Duchenne Care workshop to be held June 27 and 28 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The national symposium, held by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, will gather leadership from top medical institutions, neuromuscular experts and patient representatives with the ultimate goal of establishing a network of centers of excellence for the care and treatment of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thursday’s View From The Pugh column features upcoming local events. E-mail to submit an item for consideration for a future column).


Posted on June 21, 2012, in Family events and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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