Officials are warning people to ‘kill the 3-foot fish immediately’ if they see it (Video)

Officials are warning people to ‘kill the 3-foot fish immediately’ if they see it (Video)

Authorities have issued blunt instructions to anyone who spots a northern snakehead: ‘Kill it immediately!’

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An invasive fish species capable of breathing air and living on land for up to five days has been found in Georgia for the first time. Officials are warning anyone who comes into contact with the species to kill it immediately.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, an angler caught the northern snakehead fish this month in a pond in Gwinnett County.

The department described the long, blotchy fish as ‘bad news’; urging people to “kill it immediately and freeze it.” They have also advised people to take pictures of the fish and notify authorities immediately.

“Kill it immediately and freeze it. They can survive on land.”

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“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,” said Matt Thomas, chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Resources Division. “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.”

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Adult snakeheads superficially resemble the bowfin, a native North American fish. Snakeheads are native to parts of Asia and Africa. Fishery scientists have found individuals of four species in waters of California, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The snakehead first appeared in United States news when an alert fisherman discovered one in a Crofton, Maryland, pond in the summer of 2002. The fish was considered to be a threat to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and wary officials took action by draining the pond in an attempt to destroy the species.

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While this is the first time it’s been discovered in Georgia, snakeheads have been reported in 14 states nationwide. The long, thin fish has a dark brown blotchy appearance and can grow up to three feet in length. It can also breathe air, and survive in low oxygenated systems, including on land, officials said.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division have sounded the alarm via a rather disquieting Facebook post:

Northern snakehead are bad news. And for the first time, the invasive fish has been confirmed in Georgia waters. If…

Posted by Wildlife Resources Division – Georgia DNR on Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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Northern snakehead are bad news. And for the first time, the invasive fish has been confirmed in Georgia waters.

If you believe you have caught a northern snakehead:
DO NOT RELEASE IT.
– Kill it immediately and freeze it.
– If possible, take pictures of the fish.
– Note where it was caught (waterbody, landmarks or GPS coordinates).
– Immediately report it to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.

Although you may not think they warrant this Jaws-esque public warning, these fish pose a grave threat to native species as they compete for food and habitat, they also quickly repopulate and can take over an area as well as spread to other waterways.

As reported by CNN, the northern snakehead fish is federally regulated; and is regarded by The United States Department of Agriculture to be ‘injurious wildlife’.

Northern snakehead are bad news. And for the first time, the invasive fish has been confirmed in Georgia waters. If…

Posted by Wildlife Resources Division – Georgia DNR on Wednesday, October 9, 2019

According to CBS 46, WRD chief of fisheries Matt Thomas has appealed to Georgia-based anglers to remain vigilant in the slippery battle ahead:

Our first line of defense in the fight against aquatic invasive species, such as the northern snakehead, are our anglers.

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.

According to a WRD press release, citizens can take action in the following ways:

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

Find out more about the snakehaed at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.