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Recent reports from Maryland and Virginia on the presence of snakehead fish in their waters are cause for concern for West Virginia. Snakeheads have not been collected by our fisheries staff, or reported caught by anglers in West Virginia waters, but they have been found in a pet shop and in a home aquarium. We are concerned that these and other invasive aquatic species could become established in West Virginia and cause significant harm to our aquatic environments, particularly sport fish populations.
Please do not release the fish if you think that it may be a snakehead. Snakeheads have been added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's injurious wildlife list (Current Injurious Wildlife Species List ). Under this regulation, the importation into the United States and transportation across state lines are illegal . Additionally, West Virginia state law regulates the release of fish and other aquatic organisms into waters of the state.
Invasive aquatic species are an increasing threat to aquatic ecosystems across the country. Introductions of invasive zebra mussels and round gobies have had impacts on sport fishing in Lake Erie , and some species of Asian carp are threatening the Great Lakes as well. Recreational impacts and economic costs associated with invasive species can be substantial if invasive species do become a problem. Control measures usually are very expensive and difficult to implement. Informing anglers of these threats is important because they are our best first line of defense to guard against invasive species. Please use the following links to learn more about the snakehead fish in surrounding states and what is being done to control them. There are also links to learn more about other invasive species below.
Anglers who think that they may have caught a snakehead are asked to contact our district fisheries biologists or conservation officers.
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