For the first time, invasive northern snakehead fish have been confirmed in Georgia waters. In early October, an angler reported catching the fish in a pond located on private property in Gwinnett County.
The northern snakehead is a long, thin fish, similar in appearance to the native bowfin. They have a long dorsal fin that runs along their whole back, and a dark brown blotchy appearance. Northern snakeheads can get up to three feet in length. They can also breathe air allowing them to survive on land and in low oxygenated systems.
The northern snakehead is native to the Yangtze River basin in China. However, snakeheads have been reported in 14 states in the United States.
Invasive species are often introduced through unauthorized release. In Georgia, it is unlawful to import, transport, sell, transfer, or possess any species of snakehead fish without a valid wild animal license.
Northern snakeheads have the potential to impact native species in introduced areas by competing for food and habitat.
Anglers are the first line of defense. If you think you’ve caught a northern snakehead:
DO NOT RELEASE IT.
Kill it immediately and freeze it. They can survive on land.
If possible, take pictures of the fish. Include close ups of its mouth, fins and tail.
Note where it was caught like the waterbody, landmarks or GPS coordinates.
Contact your local wildlife department.