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Scientists test North Chickamauga Creek for hellbender DNA

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CHATTANOOGA, TN. (Times Free Press) -- Five snorklers were on the prowl, looking for an elusive ambushing predator in the upper region of North Chickamauga Creek on Monday.

They didn't find him -- or any of his hellbender kind. But they won't give up.

The past three decades have been very hard on the eastern hellbenders of the Appalachian Mountains and Midwest, according to David Hedrick, lead ectotherm keeper for the Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park.

Poor stream quality -- primarily because of siltation, agricultural chemicals and acid mine runoff from old unreclaimed or poorly reclaimed mines -- have taken a toll.

Read more on the story from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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