The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

July 7, 2013

Pine Barrens Treefrog, Marbled Salamander Official State Amphibians

Virginia Opossum Becomes Official State Marsupial

Sunday, July 7, 2013 — RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s collection of state symbols got a little wilder this week after Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation making the Pine Barrens treefrog and the marbled salamander the official state frog and salamander, and the Virginia opossum the official state marsupial.

 

Gov. McCrory signed the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Avila of Wake County, in front of a small, but enthusiastic crowd of amphibian aficionados. Among them was Rachel Hopkins, a 15-year-old from Wake County who spearheaded a year-long effort to get an official state amphibian after successfully lobbying to have then-Gov. Bev Perdue proclaim April 28, 2012 as “Save The Frogs” Day in North Carolina.

 

The Durham Academy student and self-described “frog lover” has spent the last few years speaking to Wake County Commissioners, conducting radio interviews and presenting multiple exhibits at schools and events across the county, on behalf of frogs worldwide. Last year, she combined her considerable public relations expertise with the broad reach of the N.C. Herpetological Society to bring amphibians to the attention of the current legislature.

 

The Herpetological Society counts among its many accomplishments helping with the designation of the eastern box turtle as the official state reptile in 1979. Dedicated to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, the organization has been pushing since 2008 for a state amphibian to complement the state reptile.  More than 6,000 people cast votes on the Herpetological Society’s online poll to choose the Pine Barrens treefrog and marbled salamander over six other candidates.

 

Rachel took it from there, contacting Rep. Avila and asking her to sponsor a bill naming one or the other as the official state amphibian. To Rachel’s surprise and delight, Rep. Avila included both amphibian species in the bill.

 

As N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologist Jeff Hall explains, having two amphibians as official state symbols makes a world of sense, given North Carolina’s rich diversity of amphibians, particularly salamanders.

 

“North Carolina has a great diversity of amphibians, among the highest in the whole Southeast,” Hall said.

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