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Reward raised to $15,000 for missing endangered salamanders

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SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) - A reward for the return hundreds of endangered salamanders missing for two months from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aquatic center in Central Texas has been boosted to $15,000.

Some 253 Texas blind salamanders and 110 San Marcos salamanders vanished Thanksgiving Day from the center in San Marcos. The center was closed that day and there's no sign of forced entry.

Texas blind salamanders are pale, 3- to 4-inch amphibians with frilly gills that can regenerate lost limbs. They're believed to live only in roughly 25 square miles of aquifer beneath San Marcos.

The center's director, Ken Ostrand, tells San Antonio television station KSAT he and his staff catch the amphibians in springs or caves or wells and breed them in case they go extinct in the wild.

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