The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and PennDOT have unveiled the new eastern hellbender license plate.
The new plate is aimed at both celebrating Pennsylvania’s state amphibian and supporting the Wild Resource Conservation Fund.
The eastern hellbender, recognized as the largest salamander in the U.S., can weigh over 2 pounds and measure up to 2 feet in length. The amphibian was designated as Pennsylvania’s state amphibian in 2019.
The eastern hellbender has several nicknames, including “mud cats,” “devil dogs,” and “snot otters.”
“Honoring the Eastern hellbender with a license plate is a great way to raise awareness about our state amphibian and the work the Wild Resource Conservation Program does to protect our rare plants and animals,” Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
This isn’t the first time Pennsylvania has taken such a step to raise conservation awareness.
The first Wild Resource Conservation Fund license plate was launched in February 1999, showcasing the Saw-Whet Owl.
The eastern hellbender plate is the third of its kind, following the River Otter Plate, both of which serve as official plates for the fund.
Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director and Chairman of the Wild Resource Conservation Program, highlighted the significance of the Eastern hellbender.
“While many of these animals are so rare that most Pennsylvanians may never see one in the wild, this license plate is a visible reminder that all species are a valuable parts of Pennsylvania ecosystems and are worth protecting. The eastern hellbender is also a relevant and charismatic barometer of local water quality,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) offers a variety of special fund plates for $15 each, supporting various causes ranging from preserving the state’s heritage to honoring its veterans.
For more information on the plates, click here.