(FOX Carolina) - Officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says an invasive fish species is showing up in Georgia could harm wildlife, and that if you spot one you need to kill it.
Georgia DNR said in an official blog post Wednesday the northern snakehead has shown up for the first time in a pond located on private property in Gwinnett County earlier in October.
Officials say the the northern snakehead is a long, thin fish that looks like the bowfin, which is native to Georgia. The snakehead has a long dorsal fin that runs along its entire back, with a dark brown and blotchy appearance. Not only can snakeheads get up to three feet long, but can also breathe air and survive on land and in low oxygenated areas. They also have teeth.
Georgia DNR says the snakehead is native to the Yangtze River basin in China, but they've been sighted in at least 14 states in the U.S. Officials say they likely were illegally transported to Georgia.
The main concern with the snakeheads is their potential to impact native species by competing for food and habitat.
Georgia DNR says you can help them eliminate the snakehead problem in Georgia waters. Here's how:
- Learn how to identify the northern snakehead
- If you need to dispose of aquarium animals and plants, use the garbage and don't throw them out in bodies of water
- Throw away bait in trash cans, disposal stations, or above the waterline on dry land
- Dump water from boat compartments, bait buckets, and live wells on dry land
Here's what to do if you find a snakehead:
- Do NOT release it
- Kill the fish and freeze it since the snakehead can survive on dry land
- If possible, take photos of it. Include close-ups of its mouth, fins, and tail
- Take notes of where the fish was caught, such as the body of water it was found in, nearby landmarks, or GPS coordinates
- Immediately report it to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office