Georgia wildlife officials are advising anyone who comes across a northern snakehead — a fish native to China — to “kill it immediately.”
“For the first time, invasive northern snakehead fish have been confirmed in Georgia waters,” the state’s Department of Natural Resources reported on Wednesday.
“In early October, an angler reported catching the fish in a pond located on private property in Gwinnett County (north of Atlanta),” the DNR added.
The agency explained that snakeheads can get up to 3 feet in length and can breathe air, so they can survive on land for days. The fish are a “concern” because they are competing for the same resources as native species.
“The northern snakehead is native to the Yangtze River basin in China. However, snakeheads have been reported in 14 states in the United States,” according to the DNR.
My dad got a snakehead earlier this summer. He slashed the belly—per VDGIF protocol—and called the hotline to report location and area caught. Here’s what it looks like: pic.twitter.com/YwX4zRms3u
— Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman) October 10, 2019
“These fish are like something from a bad horror movie,” Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton said in 2002 when she proposed a ban on the import and interstate transportation of the “voracious” live snakehead fish in the United States, The New York Times reported.
— WYFF News 4 (@wyffnews4) October 10, 2019
The state asked fishermen to be the first line of defense in stopping the spread of the fish in Georgia, instructing any who catch a snakehead to “kill it immediately and freeze it.”
Further, “If possible, take pictures of the fish. Include close ups of its mouth, fins and tail.”
“Note where it was caught like the waterbody, landmarks or GPS coordinates,” the DNR added. “Immediately report it to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.”
— East Bay Times (@EastBayTimes) October 10, 2019
Scott Robinson, a fisheries operations manager with Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division, told The Times it is not clear how the snakehead got into a pond in northern Georgia.
He noted the body of water is located on private property, but residents sometimes dump nonnative species out of their aquariums, because they no longer want to take care of them.
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