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State prison inmates helping out endangered salamander

MADISON, Ind. (AP) – Inmates at a women’s prison in southern Indiana are helping in the battle to prevent North America’s largest salamander from going extinct.

Madison Correctional Facility inmates spent the winter building 100 nest boxes for hellbender salamanders, which can grow two or more feet long.

Those boxes will be placed in southern Indiana’s Blue River, which is Indiana’s only river with significant populations of the aquatic salamander species that’s in decline across the eastern U.S.

Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Correction collaborated on the project.

Purdue students will place the nest boxes in the river and collect any eggs laid in them during the hellbender’s mating season.

Those eggs will be hatched at Purdue, raised until they’re juveniles and released into the Blue River to boost its hellbender populations.