COVER: A Texas Blind Salamander. PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTO
FROM SUBMITTED REPORTS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to arrests in the mysterious disappearance on Thanksgiving of 363 endangered and threatened salamanders from the National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center in San Marcos.
Workers at the federal facility, located Interstate 35 on North McCarty Lane, returned after the holiday to find 253 missing Texas Blind Salamanders and 110 San Marcos Salamanders.
The service is offering the reward money “if the missing salamanders are determined to be a criminal act and the information provided leads to the criminal conviction of the person responsible,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Leslie Gray said.
Information can be provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Antonio Office of Law Enforcement at 210-681-8419 or Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263).
More information about the missing salamander species:
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The Texas blind salamander is a rare cave-dwelling troglobite amphibian native to San Marcos, specifically the San Marcos Pool of the Edwards Aquifer. The salamander is approximately 5 inches long and has blood-red external gills for absorbing oxygen from the water. Its diet varies by what flows into its cave and includes blind shrimp, snails, and amphipods.
The Texas Blind Salamander was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act on March 11, 1967. The San Marcos Salamander is a small species of aquatic, lungless salamander native to the United States, endemic to Spring Lake and a small region of the headwaters of the San Marcos River near Aquarena Springs, in Hays County.
It is one to two inches long, with a slender body and external gills, and is reddish-brown in color. The San Marcos salamander was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act on July 14, 1980.