Conservation of Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
by Jeff Humphries, hellbenders.org
There is no doubt that hellbender populations have declined dramatically over the past several centuries, especially during the 1900’s.
Unfortunately, biologists don’t have much baseline data to go on - we don’t know how widespread hellbender populations were in the past because no one was studying hellbender populations in the 17- or 1800’s, or even into most of the 1900’s for that matter. It is clear, however, that hellbenders have declined in many stream over the past few decades and they are gone from large areas where good habitat probably once existed.
The good news is that there are still some very good hellbender streams remaining, mainly in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Several good streams also remain in some parts of Pennsylvania. Populations in the Ozark Mountains are nearly gone, or have drastically declined.
The only logical strategy now is to try to make sure that good streams remain good streams. This will take a lot of effort and careful planning in the way we as humans develop or protect landscapes…