The northern snakehead fish has been spotted in Georgia waters. Picture: US Geological Survey Archive
The northern snakehead fish has been spotted in Georgia waters. Picture: US Geological Survey Archive

‘Kill this land-dwelling fish on sight’

The best way to combat a "snake fish" is by cutting off its head.

An invasive Asian snakehead fish that can grow to almost a metre long and exist on land has surfaced in Georgia for the first time. Wildlife officials in the US state have formulated a foolproof animal control measure - killing it on sight.

A denizen of China's Yangtze River basin, the northern snakehead was caught in a private pond in Gwinnett County northeast of Atlanta in early October, Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials announced on Wednesday.

An angler's report allowed them to "confirm the presence" after identifying the fish's mottled brown colouring, a dorsal fin traversing the back and the serpentine noggin from which the fish takes its name.

"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," said Matt Thomas, chief of fisheries for the DNR's Wildlife Resources Division.

It would be bad news if the fishy interloper spreads. The federally regulated snakehead is a voracious hunter with no natural predators in North America and has the potential to displace local wildlife by commandeering their food resources and habitat, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Even scarier, these serpentine swimmers can breathe air - allowing them to exist on land for days at a time.

 

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, 9 October 2019

 

To combat the invasion, Georgia's Wildlife Resources Division posted a notice on their Facebook page, urging fishers to "immediately kill and freeze any suspected snakeheads as well as snap photos of their quarry".

Anglers should also note where it was caught - water body, GPS co-ordinates - and "report their find to their regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office".

The post sparked a flurry of remarks from the FB peanut gallery, most concerning the snakehead's purported deliciousness. Said one comment section gourmand, "Just wondering if we have to cut the head off and leave them on the bank, or if we CAN take them home to eat?"

Indeed, the "ferocious fish" is a staple of hotpot restaurants throughout China.

But for US wildlife officials, the snakehead scourge is no laughing matter. The species has already been reported in 14 states.

This article originally appeared on NY Post and was reproduced with permission


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