TWRA: No evidence of snakehead fish in Tennessee

Mouth and teeth of a northern snakehead. Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey Archive
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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said there's no evidence of a dangerous fish species in Tennessee.

The Northern snakehead is from Asia and used to be popular in aquariums.

But many states including Tennessee have banned them.

Experts believe the species probably moved into the wild by somebody illegally releasing them.

TWRA spokesperson, Matthew Cameron, said there are not any of these invasive fish in Tennessee's waterways they they know of.

But the fish are destructive.

"They compete for resources that our native fish compete with. And they'll actually eat some of our game fish, like largemouth bass, which is the most popular game fish species in North America. So don't release them into the water ways," explained Cameron.

TWRA encourages people to not release any pets into the wild.

Northern snakehead fish are long, thin and similar in appearance to the native bowfin, the release said. The fish are native to the Yangtze River basin in China, but snakeheads have been reported in 14 states in the U.S., the release said.

Yet Georgia wildlife officials said the snakehad fish that can live on land has been found in the state for the first time ever.

"They can live outside of water for at least four days if it's kept in a moist environment. You know it couldn't come up completely on dry land and completely dry out and survive. It'd have to stay in mud for example. Like if a puddle that it's in dries out, but remains somewhat moist in the bottom the fish can lay there for several days," said Cameron.

The Georgia DNR gave guidelines for what to do if you find a snakehead:

1. Do not release it
2. Kill it immediately and freeze it. They can survive on land.
3. If possible, take pictures of the fish. Include close ups of its mouth, fins and tail.
4. Note where it was caught.
5. Immediately report it.

For more information, go here.

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