Snakehead fish discovered in Georgia, sparks warning from wildlife officials: 'Kill it immediately'
An invasive fish species has been spotted in Georgia — and wildlife officials want anyone who encounters it to "immediately" kill the animal, which can survive on both land and in water.
The northern snakehead, native to the Yangtze River basin located in China, was discovered in a Gwinnett County pond earlier this month, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which noted the creatures have been reported in 14 U.S. states.
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It's unclear how the fish ended up in the pond, but a blog post from the department explains invasive species "are often introduced throughout unauthorized release."
The fish, which are long and thin with a dark appearance and a long dorsal fin that runs along its back, can grow up to three feet long. They are able to "breathe air allowing them to survive on land and in low oxygenated systems."
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Because northern snakeheads can negatively impact native species by competing for the same resources, wildlife officials encourage anyone who comes across the fish to "kill it immediately and freeze it."
The department urges people to photograph the fish, including some close-up shots "of its mouth, fins and tail." Remember where and when you found it and immediately report it to the office's Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.
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Hunter Roop, an official with the DNR, told WSB-TV they have "boots on the ground" as they search for the fish, and are "trying to understand the magnitude of the problem."
"They have the potential to prey directly on bass — especially younger bass," Roop said. "We would ask say anglers that do catch a snakehead to kill it immediately. Then call the DNR so we can document when and where."