Plants and Animals

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Species of Concern

Hellbender

  • Common Name: Eastern and Ozark hellbenders
  • Scientific Name: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis and C. a. bishopi
  • Range: Eastern subspecies: Meramec, Big, Gasconade, Big Piney and Niangua rivers, Osage Fork of the Osage River. Ozark subspecies: Current, Jacks Fork, North Fork and Eleven Point rivers and Bryant Creek.
  • Classification: State endangered
  • To learn more about endangered species: see links listed below.

At 1 to 2 feet long, these are among the world’s largest salamanders. Missouri is the only state inhabited by both subspecies. They were thriving here until the 1980s. Since then, Eastern hellbender numbers have plummeted 80 percent, and the Ozark subspecies has declined by 70 percent. They need clean, cool water and large flat rocks to hide under. One threat to their survival is stream changes that reduce water quality and cause gravel or silt to fill stream beds. Hellbenders also are killed by uninformed anglers and giggers, who believe false tales that they are dangerous or that they eat lots of fish. In fact, crayfish make up 90 percent of their diet. If you catch one by accident, release it immediately and notify Herpetologist Jeff Briggler, (573) 751-4115 or e-mail Jeff.Briggler@mdc.mo.gov.

Native Plant Field Day

Come learn how to use native plants June 21.

The MU Bradford Research and Extension Center will host a native Plant Field Day from 4 to 8 p.m. June 21. Participants will learn about native plants for landscaping, rain gardens, native plants for wildlife and agriculture. The day will include indoor and outdoor demonstrations and tours. The event is free and open to all. Directions and additional information are available from Thresa Chism or Tim Reinbott, (573) 884-7945, or Nadia Navarrete-Tindall, NavarreteN@missouri.edu, or online.

June Bruins are Hungry

Keep food, garbage out of bears’ reach.

Imagine you just woke up from a three-month nap. You haven’t had your coffee. You are hungry, and the refrigerator is empty. That’s how bears feel in June. They go on the prowl for food, and they aren’t in the mood for nonsense. Bearing this in mind, wise Missourians—especially in the southern half of the state—make sure that livestock feed and garbage are locked up. They keep pet food indoors, put away bird feeders and string electric fences around bee hives. Black bears (the only kind native to Missouri) are seldom aggressive. If you encounter one, don’t make sudden movements. speak in a calm voice so as not to startle the animal, and back away until the bear is out of sight.

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