Events at state park to raise awareness of hellbender preservation

March 26, 2015  


An adult eastern hellbender. (Photo courtesy Rod Williams Laboratory)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Crawfish is a common food of the hellbender and likewise will be on the menu for people at a Purdue Extension dinner and festivities designed to raise awareness of efforts to save the endangered salamander in Indiana.  

The April 11 "Feast Like a Hellbender" will be an early dinner, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, at the Hickory Hollow Nature Center at O'Bannon Woods State Park in Corydon. The all-you-can-eat Cajun cuisine dinner will include crawfish étouffée, boiled crawfish, shrimp creole, jambalaya, and rice and beans, with optional menu items for children.

There will be arts and crafts such as face painting and coloring, games for the family, live animals on display and door prizes donated by local sponsors.

The hellbender can grow up to 2 feet long. It spends up to 30 years under flat rocks in rivers and streams across Appalachia, parts of the Midwest and the northern tips of several southern states. In Indiana, it exists only in the Blue River in the southern portion of the state.

"Hellbenders have declined rapidly in Indiana over the past few decades," said Brian Tornabene, a Purdue Extension outreach assistant and an organizer of the event. "We hope that this event will raise awareness of this fascinating state-endangered species, their last remaining stronghold in the Blue River watershed, and help bring them back from the brink of disappearing."

The event will provide information to educators, young people, farmers and anglers to increase awareness of Blue River habitat restoration, preserving water quality and conserving the hellbender.

Registration, required in advance, costs $12 for adults and $6 for children. To register, visit The website also has more information about the hellbender, including several videos and podcasts explaining the salamander and its significance to the environment.

Preceding the dinner will be the Hellbender Hustle 5K run and trail walk 9-11 a.m., sponsored by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Registration for that activity is available at Search for "hellbender."           

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, 

Source: Brian Tornabene,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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