Jimmy Blackaby got a surprise while fishing in the Licking River recently. What he thought was likely a catfish on the end of his line turned out to be a rare eastern hellbender.
Sometimes called a “snot otter” or “grampus,” it has a flat head and body, elongated tail and stubby legs.
Greg Lipps, a herpetologist from Delta, Ohio, is surveying the hellbender population in Kentucky with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Kentucky does not have its own endangered species list, but Ohio’s Division of Wildlife lists the eastern hellbender as endangered.
Little is known about how well the eastern hellbender population is doing.
The data from the survey could help create a case for adding the eastern hellbender to the federal endangered species list.