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Georgia's Advice on This Fish: 'Kill It Immediately, Freeze It'

Invasive northern snakehead shows up in state waters for the first time
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2019 8:46 AM CDT
Caleb Newton, who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., poses in 2013 with the 17-pound, 6-ounce northern snakehead fish that he caught in Aquia Creek.   (AP Photo/The Free Lance-Star, Griffin Moores)

(Newser) – Wildlife officials often put a catch-and-release policy into place for fish. Not so with the northern snakehead in Georgia. There, authorities' first line of guidance is in all caps: "DO NOT RELEASE IT." The second: "Kill it immediately ... and freeze it." As USA Today reports, the northern snakehead is an invasive species that has been spotted in the state's waterways for the first time—specifically in a pond in Gwinnett County. The fish can wreak havoc on local ecosystems, and Georgia wildlife officials hope to contain its spread. The northern snakehead can grow up to 3 feet long, and it has an unusual survival trick: It can survive up to four days out of the water if it remains wet and can even travel across wet land, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Our first line of defense in the fight against aquatic invasive species, such as the northern snakehead, are our anglers,” says Matt Thomas of the Wildlife Resources Division. This National Geographic video has more information on the fish, which is native to Asia and first turned up in US waters in 2002. It is already well established in the Potomac River system and has been found in 14 states so far, reports CNN. It was a fisherman who first alerted state authorities to the fish in Georgia, and officials there are now trying to determine whether it exists elsewhere in the state. (Florida had to ask people to stop being so zealous in killing a different species.)

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