More snakehead news
Snakehead fish found in Maryland lake
Thursday, April 29, 2004 Posted: 8:11 PM EDT (0011 GMT)
A captured snakehead fish is displayed for the media during a news conference in Wheaton Wednesday.
WHEATON, Maryland (AP) -- Authorities plan to drain a Maryland lake after an angler caught a Northern snakehead, the same voracious nonnative fish that infested a pond only miles away in 2002.
State officials said the 19-inch fish, an Asian species that can wriggle on land for short distances and eats so many smaller fish it can destroy an ecosystem, was pulled out of Pine Lake in Wheaton Regional Park Monday afternoon.
The lake north of Washington, D.C., feeds a tributary of the Anacostia River, which empties into the Potomac River.
State biologists used electric shocks Tuesday to try to get a rise out of any other snakeheads, but none appeared. Wire mesh was placed over a pipe that leads out of the lake to prevent any others from escaping. Draining of the lake could begin as early as Thursday, officials said.
The caught fish is believed to be about 4 years old, but how long it was in the lake, how it got there and whether it is male or female is not known, said Steve Early, assistant fisheries director for the Department of Natural Resources.
Early said the state does not foresee a serious environmental threat, because only one snakehead was found and it's not spawning season for the fish.
The snakehead was most likely dumped into the lake by its owner, Early said.
In the summer of 2002, snakeheads were found breeding in a private pond in Crofton, about 20 miles east of Wheaton. More than 1,000 juvenile snakeheads and six adults were recovered when state officials poisoned the pond and two others to keep the fish from spreading.
All the Crofton fish were traced to a Maryland man who discarded two fish after buying them live in a New York market.
That episode prompted the state to pass a law allowing the state to inspect private properties for invasive species and take action to contain them.
In 2002, the Department of the Interior banned the import of 28 species of snakehead, including the Northern variety, according to a spokesman.
Another Snakehead Found in Potomac River
RICHMOND, Va. - An angler caught a northern snakehead fish over the weekend in the Potomac River, the third time in nine days that the voracious alien species has been found in the river.
The 13-inch fish was caught Saturday in Occoquan Bay near Woodbridge by an angler taking part in a bass fishing competition, according to Steve Early, a fisheries official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Officials at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries did not return several phone calls Monday.
The catch site is about 5 miles south of where an angler reeled in a 12-inch snakehead May 7 near Mount Vernon. Last Wednesday, another 12-inch snakehead was caught across the river at Marshall Hall, Md.
Scientists fear the fish, an aggressive predator imported from China that can wipe out native fish species, may be spawning in the Potomac. But Early said despite the three finds, he is still looking for evidence of reproduction such as smaller snakeheads or females that are ready to lay eggs.
"I haven't seen reproduction," he said. "At this point, three fish is just way too little to speculate about."
Because the Potomac is too vast a body of water to effectively hunt for more snakeheads, Maryland natural resources officials are relying on recreational anglers to determine if any more fish are in the river.
The agency posted signs late last week at marinas and fishing sites warning anglers to kill and report any snakeheads. The signs will eventually be posted between northern Washington and Colonial Beach and in tackle shops, Early said.
The information campaign seems to be effective — Early said the fisherman who caught the fish Saturday immediately cut its head off.
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