Monday, December 12, 2016

Endangered salamanders missing from Texas facility

Scores of endangered salamanders disappeared from a federal facility south of Austin over the Thanksgiving holiday, and authorities say one possibility is that they may have been stolen because of a potential black market value of $15,000. Most of those missing are Texas blind salamanders — pale, 3- to 4-inch amphibians with frilly gills that can regenerate lost limbs and are believed to live only in roughly 25 square miles of an aquifer beneath San Marcos, the Austin American Statesman reported. It’s also possible some type of predator got into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center, removed the lids from the salamanders’ covered tanks and ate them without being detected, authorities said. The incident was reported Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. The facility, which is about 35 miles from Austin, held about 300 salamanders, 130 of those collected in the wild and others raised in labs. Not all of the salamanders on site disappeared...more

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