BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A natural predator is rearing its ugly head again. The snakehead fish is spotted in Maryland waters.
Pat Warren reports on what the Department of Natural Resources is doing about it.READ MORE: 'All My Organs Shut Down' | Maryland Man Shares His COVID Survival Story, Says He's Grateful For Second Chance
That’s right — new waters. The DNR is calling all anglers to be their front line defense.
A Department of Natural Resources video is a tutorial on the snakehead — a foreign predator that eats its way through ecological house and home — and what to do if you catch one.
“Decapitation, evisceration, cutting out its gut or pulling out its gill arches,” the video said.
“Absolutely. That is our position — to catch and kill — and it’s been a difficult one for us because many anglers are in a catch and release mode,” said Joe Love, DNR biologist.
The snakehead is public enemy number one in Maryland waters. It’s been on DNR’s hit list for years and recently turned up in a private pond in Wicomico County.READ MORE: 2 Charles County Deputies Shot In Police-Involved Shooting, Suspect Dead
“We barely understand what their impacts are in tidal waters. We don’t have a clue as to what their impact will be in an isolated pond system,” said Love.
“And all the fish that we pulled out of the pond — I believe it was about seven of them — were adults. They were pretty big fish,” he continued. “So we believe someone released them there basically to have a good fishing spot.”
And they’re not only big eaters, they’re rapid breeders.
“So if anglers simply catch even a two-inch snakehead, at the end of the year, we randomly draw out names from all of the people who’ve entered information that year and we give them gift cards,” said Love.
And if killing a snakehead seems harsh, know that possessing or releasing one carries up to a $25,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
On the upside, we’re told the snakehead is very tasty.MORE NEWS: Maryland Still Feeling Effects of Colonial Pipeline Hack
Anglers who catch a snakehead are asked to report as much information as possible to DNR.