Northern Snakeheads Found in Ponds in Wicomico and Queen Anne's - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Northern Snakeheads Found in Ponds in Wicomico and Queen Anne's Counties

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 WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - Northern Snakeheads aren't the prettiest fish lurking in the waters on Delmarva, and they're a threat to native fish and wildlife. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently found them in private ponds in Wicomico and Queen Anne's Counties.

In Salisbury City Park, signs from DNR urge anglers to report as much information as possible if they catch a snakehead fish. Most importantly, they urge anyone who catches one to kill it, since it's illegal to possess or release a snakehead in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. If not, there's up to a $25,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

After receiving reports of catches in ponds in Wicomico County and Queen Anne's County, DNR surveyed the ponds. In the Wicomico County pond, three more adult snakeheads were found, while seven, including some subadult fish, were found in Queen Anne's.

Joe Love, DNR's fisheries biologist, says they believe the fish in Queen Anne's are reproducing. Joe Evans, also of DNR, tells WBOC that the fish in the Wicomico pond likely arrived because of a high water event, since the pond is part of the Wicomico River system.

Ken Spicer of Laurel goes fishing about 150 times a year and has caught many snakehead fish, including some in the Potomoc River shortly after they were discovered.

"We started seeing them on the Eastern Shore about three years ago. They're in the same areas that you would generally catch a large mouth bass," said Spicer. "You know instantly when you've got one because they fight so hard."

DNR first discovered the Eastern Shore snakeheads in Crofton Pond in 2002. The fish have since been caught in the Patuxent, Wicomico and Blackwater rivers, as well as some Delaware ponds.

Spicer says just last week, one of his friends caught an eight pound northern snakehead on the Marshy Hope outside of Federalsburg while they were bass fishing.

To encourage reporting and to help control the population, DNR added an invasive species award category to its Maryland Fishing Challenge.

"They'll do it, they'll take 'em out," Spicer laughed. "I'm sure that the masses of fishermen will comply with reporting."

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