Snakehead bounty: For every angler that catches and kills a snakehead fish in Maryland, the state is offering a $200 gift card "bounty" plus other incentives.
Courtsey Maryland Department of Natural Resources
The second annual Maryland state bounty on snakeheads is sure to boost the media hype around this Asian invasive species.
Coming to a website near you: "Frankenfish" or "Fishzilla" or "The Fish That Ate Maryland."
Maybe that should be the next Maryland contest: Another Fearsome Nom de Mar for the Channidae family fish, that is believed to have originated in northern India some 50 million years ago.
No doubt, the concern over the snakehead species is justified. Already, the fish can found in at least eight US states. It's not just the fierce teeth, or that it can actually exist out of water, breathing air via a suprabranchial organ, for up to four days. The real threat is that it is a "top-level predator." In other words, it has no natural predators in the US.
The major concern is that it may replace the largemouth bass in Maryland and Virginia waters. In 2004, snakeheads were first spotted in the Potomac River. Since then, they've multiplied, and gotten bigger.
A study by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and the state's Fish and Wildlife Department concluded that largemouth bass and snakeheads are battling it out for survival. The study found that the two species would eat each other's offspring, live in shallow water beneath protective lilies and grass and chase frog baits. The study also found that when snakehead populations declined, largemouth bass populations grew.