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Old 05-07-2004, 10:10 AM
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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.
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