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Invasive Snakehead Fish Found Near Annapolis

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Snakeheads are on the move.  Also called frankenfish, the nasty looking invasive species has turned up in a new location.

Adam May reports on their serious environmental impact.

When biologists decided to sample fish in the Rhode River south of Annapolis, they discovered a large, 23-inch snakehead, an invasive species from Asia, never spotted in the area before.

“They’re on the move,” said Don Kosden, DNR.

Maryland’s Chief of Inland Fisheries says the snakeheads are tougher than originally thought, able to travel in salty waters in search of new homes.

“It appears they can navigate through higher salinity rivers, then find their way to fresh water areas,” said Kosden.

Around 60 snakeheads have been reported in Maryland.  Jim Scritchfield caught one of the first almost a decade ago.

“And he was in the net and he bit the net, put his head through the net and tried to bite me so I hit his head with the net,” Scritchfield said.

With populations expanding, it’s predicted snakeheads will move north of the Bay Bridge, closer to the Baltimore area.  They compete with striped bass and perch for habitat and food, eating each other’s young.

“We haven’t measured impacts to the other populations yet, but undoubtedly it’s occurred,” Kosden said.

And in this underwater war for turf, odds are the snakehead will win.

The DNR only has one restriction when it comes to fishing for snakeheads: you have to kill them.  And yes, they’re edible.

If you catch a snakehead, you’re asked to report it to the Department of Natural Resources.

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