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Snakehead

Northern Snakehead Monitoring Program

In 2002, northern snakehead were discovered and eradicated in a small pond in Maryland. Since then, the snakehead has been listed as an injurious species under the Lacy Act and many states now prohibit the sale or possession of the fish.

In 2004, snakehead fish were captured in Maryland and Virginia tributaries to the Potomac River. Additional fish continue to be captured as it appears that the snakehead has successfully colonized areas of the Potomac River, and their range seems to be expanding.

The objective of this project is to monitor the status of snakehead populations, control snakeheads through removal, and to determine the salinity tolerance of the species. Although it is doubtful that eradication in the Potomac River can be achieved, control efforts may be successful.

The Maryland Fishery Resources Office (MFRO) is working with the states of Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia to sample the Potomac River to determine the extent to which the nothern snakehead has colonized this large tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. The MFRO has also been working to collect snakehead fish for use in salinity trials.

The range of northern snakehead has expanded from the area in and around Dogue Creek in the Potomac River to areas further north and south. Snakeheads have been caught as far south as Machadoc Creek, Virginia and as far north as Carderock, Maryland, just below Great Falls.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and D.C. Department of Environmental Protection are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to tag snakeheads in the Potomac River. We need your help to learn more about what impact that snakeheads could have on Potomac River fish populations.

To see a current map of confirmed snakehead locations, visit the web site below:

http://nas2.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=2265

If you catch a tagged snakehead, please call the toll free number 1-800-448-8322. You will be asked to provide information about the location, date, gear used, and length of the tagged snakehead. Anyone reporting a tag will receive a certificate of participation and a reward. Anglers are asked NOT TO RELEASE northern snakehead fish alive.

Last updated: January 30, 2013
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