"In West Virginia we know the populations have declined at least 40 percent over the past 30 years," Joe Greathouse, biologist with The Wilds, said.
"It's our largest salamander this side of the world and we're losing it so we need to figure out why and we're trying to figure out techniques for increasing their populations but also returning them to the streams and rivers where they used to be where they're not there anymore."
One by one, teams walk up and down streams across the state, lifting rocks and putting nets on each side to catch a hellbender.
"After we catch the hellbender we'll take environmental measurements associated with the rock," Greathouse
"We collect water from streams and rivers, we filter that water, extract the DNA from filter pads, and then amplify the tiny little pieces of DNA with a machine that heats the DNA up really hot and then breaks it down," Greathouse