Reward in missing salamanders case upped to $15,000

More than 350 rare salamanders disappeared from a San Marcos facility in November. Photo by Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman

More than 350 rare salamanders disappeared from a San Marcos facility in November. Photo by Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman

 

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The Center for Biological Diversity has added $5,000 to the reward for information leading to a conviction or fine in the case of hundreds of missing rare salamanders.

The total reward is now $15,000.

“Losing hundreds of these amazing salamanders is a terrible blow to their conservation,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist with the center. “The San Marcos facility served as a Noah’s Ark that could preserve the fragile salamanders if they went extinct in the wild. The tragic loss of these animals threatens their very existence.”

The aquatic salamanders require clean, well-oxygenated water and are threatened by activities that disturb surface springs, pollute their water or reduce its flow to their underground aquatic habitats, a press release stated.

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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.

Texas Blind Salamanders live in caves and measure about 5 inches long. Photo by Deborah Cannon/Austin American Statesman

Texas Blind Salamanders live in caves and measure about 5 inches long. Photo by Deborah Cannon/Austin American Statesman

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.


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