The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case of hundreds of rare salamanders that disappeared from a San Marcos fish hatchery.
The 253 Texas blind salamanders and 110 San Marcos salamanders, both protected under the Endangered Species Act and Texas state law, went missing from the San Marcos National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center in San Marcos over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The reward will be issued if the information provided leads to the criminal conviction of whoever is responsible, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in San Antonio.
The Texas blind salamander is a rare cave-dwelling amphibian native to the San Marcos Pool of the Edwards Aquifer. The salamander, which has bright-red external gills and eats blind shrimp, snails and amphipods, measures about 5 inches long. It was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1967.
The aquatic, lungless San Marcos salamander lives only in Spring Lake and in the headwaters of the San Marcos River near Aquarena Springs. The slender, reddish-brown salamander with external gills measures 1 to 2 inches. It was listed as threatened in 1980.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Antonio Office of Law Enforcement at (210) 681-8419 or Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). Callers may remain anonymous.