FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 1, 2005
LT. GOV. QUINN ANNOUNCES THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE FOR OFFICIAL ILLINOIS AMPHIBIAN AND ILLINOIS REPTILE
CHICAGO -- With the virtual voting booths officially closed as of midnight Friday, December 31, 2004, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn announced the people’s choice for official Illinois Amphibian is the Eastern Tiger Salamander and the official Illinois Reptile is the Painted Turtle.
“After a positive election campaign in which thousands of Illinois school children went online to pick their favorite amphibian and reptile, the winners are the Eastern Tiger Salamander and the Painted Turtle,” Quinn said. “This election was a great opportunity for thousands of students and citizens to learn more about Illinois’ natural resources and conservation, and participate in a groundbreaking experiment in electronic democracy.”
Students and citizens across the state voted for their favorite amphibian and reptile. The amphibian candidates were the Gray Tree Frog, American Toad and Eastern Tiger Salamander. Reptile candidates were the Eastern Box Turtle, Common Garter Snake and Painted Turtle.
Eastern Tiger Salamander 19,217 votes (51%) Painted Turtle 16,742 votes (45%)
Gray Tree Frog 10,591 votes (28%) Garter Snake 11,925 votes (32%)
American Toad 8,140 votes (21%) Eastern Box Turtle 8,581 votes (23%)
Lt. Gov. Quinn and Rep. Bob Biggins (R-Elmhurst) teamed up with Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Herpatological Society to sponsor this first-ever virtual election for an official state symbol. Six students from Jackson Middle School in Villa Park served as “campaign managers” for the amphibian and reptile candidates.
“I commend each candidate for a strong campaign,” said Quinn. “While the candidates may live in the mud, they didn’t sling mud in this election.”
The Eastern Tiger Salamander is the largest Illinois terrestrial salamander and is found in all areas of the state. Due to their skin type, these amphibians are more likely to show the affects of water pollution. The Eastern Tiger Salamander can reach over 12 inches in length and is often mistaken for a lizard or even a baby alligator.
Among the world’s most colorful aquatic turtles, the Painted Turtle is a familiar sight in lakes and ponds across Illinois. In addition to being a good scavenger, the Painted Turtle feeds on insects, aquatic invertebrates, and plants and helps clean up the environment.
Rep. Biggins will present a resolution officially recognizing the Eastern Tiger Salamander and Painted Turtle when the Illinois General Assembly reconvenes later this month. When approved, the Eastern Tiger Salamander (State Amphibian) and Painted Turtle (State Reptile) will join the state’s existing 17 symbols including the Monarch Butterfly (State Insect), White-tailed Deer (State Mammal), Blue Gill (State Fish) and Cardinal (State Bird).
“Our state is dependent on the Illinois River and its tributaries,” Quinn said. “The number of amphibian species is a good indicator of water pollution, and they help us gauge the health of our rivers. Reptiles help keep the environment clean by eating pesky insects, while delighting canoeists by basking on logs and aquatic plants.”
Quinn is the Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council (IRCC), which is responsible for coordinating public and private funding for restoration of Illinois waterways. Amphibians and reptiles are an essential part of the biodiversity of Illinois waterways.
For more information on the election go to www.LtGovernor.il.gov.