Friday, February 22, 2019

Does Maryland Need a State Salamander?

Long-tailed Salamander
Sure, why not. Next for Maryland: a state amphibian?
Several other states besides Maryland — nearly two dozen — have official amphibians.

A group of students at Garrett County’s Southern Middle School discovered Maryland doesn’t have one, and they would like to rectify that.

They found an ally in Sen. George Edwards, R-Washington/Allegany/Garrett.

On their behalf, Edwards introduced legislation to designate the long-tailed salamander (eurycea longicauda in Latin) as Maryland’s state amphibian.

The eighth-graders proposed the designation during a trip to the Hickory Environmental Education Center in Garrett County, he said.

“They came up with the idea they would like to have the long-tailed salamander be the state amphibian because the colors of that amphibian are basically the state colors,” Edwards said.
Maryland State Flag

These particular critters live “from our area west into — I don’t think they get quite to the (Chesapeake) Bay area, but it takes in most of Central and Western Maryland,” he added. “So they asked if I would put a bill in to make the long-tailed salamander the amphibian of the state of Maryland.”

Edwards said students researched eurycea longicauda.

“And I thought, you know, they put that time in, were that interested in it, I’d be happy to put a bill in to try to create that category,” he said.
OK, I get the orange and black

And why not? Maryland has a state bird (Baltimore oriole — with or without bats and gloves); state crustacean (the Maryland blue crab); state butterfly (Baltimore checkerspot); state reptile (diamondback terrapin — fear the turtle!); and state dog (Chesapeake Bay retriever).

Thanks to former Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany, and elementary school students from Cumberland, there also is a state cat (calico “felis catus”).
Again, with the orange and black theme.
But more than giving Maryland another state symbol, Edwards said the bill lets students see how the machinery of government works. Several students and their teacher plan to come to Annapolis for a bill hearing at 1 p.m. March 7 with the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

“They need to participate, since they requested it,” Edwards said, “and that’s all part of the process. It’s a good learning experience for them, and they can see how government works, or doesn’t work. … And when you can do that for young people, hopefully, they then get instilled in them to be involved.”

Edwards said he learned that long-tailed salamanders “eat insects, etc., so they’re helpful there.”

Another fun fact: They can regrow the long tails, should the appendages meet some unfortunate mishap.
Which would be a neat trick, if I had a tail.

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