Invasive Fish Species Found in Gwinnett, May Be Threat to Native Species

Wire Service
By Wire Service
October 10, 2019Trendingshare
Invasive Fish Species Found in Gwinnett, May Be Threat to Native Species
An invasive fish species that can breathe air and survive on land has been found in Georgia for the first time. (Steve Ruark/AP Photo)

GWINNETT COUNTY, Georgia (WGCL)—In early October, an angler reported catching a ‘northern snakehead’, an aquatic invasive species, in a pond located on private property in Gwinnett County, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

This is the first time this fish species has been confirmed in Georgia waters.

“Our first line of defense in the fight against aquatic invasive species, such as the northern snakehead, are our anglers,” said Matt Thomas, Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Resources Division.

“Thanks to the quick report by an angler, our staff was able to investigate and confirm the presence of this species in this water body. We are now taking steps to determine if they have spread from this water body and, hopefully, keep it from spreading to other Georgia waters.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) hunting an invasive species called the “northern snakehead.” (Photo courtesy of WGCL)

The invasive fish has been reported in 14 states in the United States, however, this is the first confirmed report from Georgia.

They are long, thin fish, similar in appearance to the native bowfin. They can get up to three feet in length and have a long dorsal fin that runs along their whole back with a dark brown blotchy appearance.

The northern snakehead can also breathe air and can survive in low oxygenated systems.

A juvenile northern snakehead fish (Georgia Department of Natural Resources)
The snakehead is a long, thin fish that looks similar to the native bowfin. They can reach lengths of three feet. (U.S. Geological Survey)

Invasive species are often introduced through unauthorized release. Non-native invasive species such as the northern snakehead, have the potential to impact native species in introduced areas by competing for food and habitat.

In Georgia, it is unlawful to import, transport, sell, transfer, or possess any species of snakehead fish without a valid wild animal license.

Kill It Immediately

The Department of Natural Resources called on people to “not release it,” but kill the fish immediately and freeze it—remember, the fish can breath air and can survive on land.

“If possible, take pictures of the fish. Include close-ups of its mouth, fins and tail,” it also said, adding that one should “note where it was caught like the waterbody, landmarks, or GPS coordinates.”

Mouth and teeth of a northern snakehead fish. (U.S. Geological Survey)

Report the find to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.

Here’s How Anglers Can Help:

  • Learn how to identify the northern snakehead.
  • Dispose of aquarium animals and plants in the garbage, not in waterbodies.
  • Dispose of all bait in trash cans, at disposal stations, or above the waterline on dry land.
  • Dump water from boat compartments, bait buckets, and live wells on dry land.

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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