Teen pushes recognition for Idaho giant salamander Ilah Hickman poses with a young Idaho giant salamander at the Idaho state Capitol in Boise, Idaho (AP photos)
Teen pushes recognition for Idaho giant salamander
Lexile

Some Idaho lawmakers are worried that special recognition of the Idaho giant salamander could lead to federal protections. So they rejected a grade school student's request that it be named the state amphibian.

The House State Affairs Committee voted against 14-year-old Ilah Hickman's plan. It was her fifth attempt in as many years. She is trying to persuade lawmakers that students made a good choice in selecting the salamander for state amphibian.

"I was kind of disappointed. But either way I'm going to come back next year and push it again," Hickman told The Spokesman-Review. "I'm going to keep pushing, until it either passes or I can't get hearings anymore."

An Idaho attorney general advised lawmakers that approving the salamander as a state symbol wouldn't do anything in the way of encouraging federal protections. But lawmakers remained wary.

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, pointed out that designating a state symbol had nothing to do with endangered species.

"We addressed that," Ward-Engelking said. "We got an opinion from the attorney general. It was very clear. I spoke with him personally. He said no way, no how was a state symbol going to impact that whatsoever."

Frank Lundberg, a herpetologist, testified in support of the bill and was disappointed after it failed.

Idaho fourth-grade classes study state symbols as part of Idaho history. A fourth-grade teacher backed the bill as well.

But Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, voted against the salamander after recalling being repulsed by them as a boy.

"They were ugly, they were slimy, and they were creepy," he said. "And I've not gotten over that. So to elevate them to the status of being the state amphibian, I'm not there yet."

The Idaho giant salamander can grow to more than a foot long. Hickman told lawmakers that the salamander makes its home almost exclusively in Idaho, and noted it has skin markings that resemble a topographical map of Idaho's Bitterroot Mountains.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is the giant salamander referred to in this story called the "Idaho" giant salamader?

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COMMENTS (31)
  • ericp-Wre
    2/04/2015 - 01:16 p.m.

    i think it should be the state amphibian. i love salamanders i have four of them.i am in fourth grade.i,am at texico school write now.

  • ShantejashaRogan-Man
    2/04/2015 - 03:46 p.m.

    I think that the giant salamander is called "Idaho" giant salamander because it is a state symbol and I say that because when I was reading paragraph 4 and 5 it made me think that it is a state symbol.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/04/2015 - 08:52 p.m.

    I think that it is cool for a 14-year-old girl to keep a giant salamander as a pet because that salamander is big, I think it is longer than my hand or arm, but I can't tell how long is it. I don't think that an 14-year-old girl could keep that giant salamander because it needs to be free in the wild because I think that those giant salamanders are endangered, but I can't tell if they are endangered or not.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    2/04/2015 - 09:46 p.m.

    I think the Idaho giant salamander should be the state amphibian because since it is endangered, then raising it up as the state amphibian could help stop hunting. I like animals especially new species so I think it should be raised up as the state amphibian. The Idaho Giant Salamander is cool because its skin looks like a topographical map of Idaho's Bitterroot Mountains. Also, it makes it home almost exclusively in Idaho so it cannot be found anywhere else.
    Critical thinking challenge: Why is the giant salamander referred to in this story called the "Idaho" giant salamander?
    Answer: The giant salamander referred to in this story is called the "Idaho" giant salamander because the giant salamander is not found anywhere else except Idaho.

  • dylan.goodwin34
    2/05/2015 - 12:52 p.m.

    That is giant! It is cool that the sembels reperesent a topgraphic map. I use to have a geco for a long time. That is why I liked this report.

  • alyssa.knight71
    2/05/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    I do agree that the salamander's are slimy and sticky. They are slimy and sticky because that is how they breathe. If their skin turned dry the salamander won't be able to breathe and soon die, but it not their fault that they are like. I am super proud of this teenage girl to try to make this salamander the state animal. Good work so far.

  • TR2001Blue
    2/05/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    The giant salamander is referred to Idaho probably because the state Idaho is one of the big sized state and most likely have a big population of people. That is probably why the giant salamander is called Idaho.

  • Ethan-Arm
    2/05/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    I think it is great salamanders are being recognized, many animals go through cruelty and torture and when people stand up for them it causes an effect on everybody. Plus if any animals go extinct it could collapse the whole food chain.

  • Addie-Arm
    2/05/2015 - 01:18 p.m.

    It is cool to see a teenager follow something she wants. She doesn't give up on wanting the salamander as the state amphibian! This is a good article for never giving up!

  • Addie-Arm
    2/05/2015 - 01:18 p.m.

    It is cool to see a teenager follow something she wants. She doesn't give up on wanting the salamander as the state amphibian! This is a good article for never giving up!

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