Help WVDNR Biologists Track the Distribution of Hellbenders and Mudpuppies in West Virginia

Be a citizen scientist and help us learn more about the distribution of hellbenders and mudpuppies in West Virginia by participating in our Hellbender and Mudpuppy Survey.

This project will take two years to complete, and gives anglers, science enthusiasts and members of the public a chance to help map the distribution of hellbenders and mudpuppies and protect these unique amphibians and their habitats. WVDNR biologists will use data collected during the survey to inform future conservation efforts.

How Can you Help?

Keep an eye out for these unique amphibians and report any observations or bycatch of hellbenders and mudpuppies to the WVDNR through this survey. Your observations will help WVDNR biologists better understand the distribution and status of these two salamanders in the Mountain State.

If you hook a salamander on the end of your line, either push the hook through to remove the barb with pliers and then extract the  hook, or simply cut the line as close to the hook as you can and release it back to the water. The hook will rust away in a few weeks.

Spread the word about these salamanders! You can help correct misconceptions about hellbenders and mudpuppies, and share this survey with your friends, family, and peers.

Leave rocks where you find them. Don’t move rocks to create towers, dams, channels, fire rings, or other structures. Salamanders and other animals depend on the specific microenvironment created by instream rocks. Moving rocks disturbs sediment and changes the flow of water, altering or destroying habitat for salamanders and other aquatic life.

Be an advocate for clean waterways and support measures to limit sedimentation and pollution from development, agriculture, and industry, which will help preserve these salamanders and their habitat into the future.

Ready to track your hellbender and mudpuppy sighting?

Anglers and members of the public who see a hellbender or mudpuppy in their local waterway or inadvertently catch one while fishing can report their sighting to the WVDNR by completing a short questionnaire, which includes questions about the date and location of the observation. Submitting a photo is encouraged.

Want to learn more about hellbenders and mudpuppies?

Hellbenders and mudpuppies are the only two fully aquatic salamanders native to West Virginia. Neither species is poisonous or venomous, and they eat crayfish, worms and insects and the occasional small minnow or amphibian. Hellbenders and mudpuppies do not negatively impact sportfish populations.