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Northern Snakehead

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Northern snakehead
Northern snakehead, open mouth showing sharp teeth, Photo by U.S. Geological Survey
Scientific Name: 
Channa argus (ITIS)
Common Name: 
Northern Snakehead
Native To: 
Eastern Asia (NAS Database)
Date of U.S. Introduction: 
First established population discovered in Maryland in 2002 (NAS Database)
Means of Introduction: 
Released from fish markets (NAS Database)
Impact: 
Preys on and competes with native species (NAS Database)

Spotlights

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today encouraged anglers in the Delaware River to be on the lookout for northern snakehead, an invasive fish native to Southeast Asia. A northern snakehead was recently caught in the Callicoon area of the Delaware River. Given the right environmental conditions, this invasive species can prey on and compete with other fish, upsetting the natural balance of local ecosystems. "Northern snakeheads are listed federally as injurious wildlife, and New York State law prohibits their live possession," Commissioner Seggos said. "Any snakehead caught should be killed immediately and not released back into the water." In the event an angler catches a northern snakehead, DEC advises anglers to report the catch to the regional NYS DEC fisheries office, DEC's Invasive Species Bureau at isinfo@dec.ny.gov or (518) 402-9425, or submit a report through iMapinvasives.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is urging anglers to report and dispose of any invasive Northern Snakehead fish that may be caught in the lower Susquehanna River. This advisory follows the documented movement of 21 Northern Snakeheads past the Conowingo Dam into the Conowingo Pool, a 14-mile-long section of the Susquehanna River located between the Conowingo Dam in Maryland and the Holtwood Dam in Pennsylvania. Anglers are reminded that possession, transport, and importation of a live snakehead is unlawful in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Any of these invasive fish that are caught should be killed and disposed of properly or consumed. Anglers who suspect they have caught a snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the PFBC at (610) 847-2442 or by sending an email to tgrabowski@pa.gov. For more information on Northern Snakeheads in Pennsylvania, including an identification guide, visit the PFBC snakehead resource page.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife Resources Division.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division confirmed someone found a northern snakehead in early October in a pond on private property in Gwinnett County, marking the first time the invasive fish has been found in the state. Fishermen who find a northern snakehead should take pictures, note where it was caught and then report it.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.
Provides detailed collection information as well as animated map.

Federally Regulated

DOI. FWS. Fish and Aquatic Conservation.

Includes species listed as injurious wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act (18 USC 42), which makes it illegal to import injurious wildlife into the United States or transport between the listed jurisdictions in the shipment clause (the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any possession of the United States) without a permit. An injurious wildlife listing would not prohibit intrastate transport or possession of that species within a State where those activities are not prohibited by the State.

Injurious wildlife are wild mammals, wild birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, crustaceans, mollusks and their offspring or eggs that are injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife or wildlife resources of the U.S. Plants and organisms other than those stated above cannot be listed as injurious wildlife.
See also: Injurious Wildlife: A Summary of the Injurious Provisions of the Lacey Act (Dec 2017; PDF | 401 KB)

Images

University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Videos

Google. YouTube; National Geographic.

Google. YouTube; Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Fisheries.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Northern Snakehead.

Council or Task Force

Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. Washington Invasive Species Council.

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.
Partnership
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.
Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program (Canada).
Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.

New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse.

Federal Government
DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.
U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1251; Researched and funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

DOI. Fish and Wildlife Service.

See also: FWS Outreach and Education for more fact sheets
Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Marine Invasions Research Lab.
DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.
Provides distribution maps and collection information (State and County).
State and Local Government

New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Fisheries Service.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Academic
Pennsylvania State University. Pennsylvania Sea Grant.
See also: Aquatic Invasive Species: Resources for additional species information
Columbia University. Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.

University of California. Agriculture and Natural Resources. California Aquatic Invasive Species.

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant.
Professional
Invasive Species Centre (Ontario).

Citations