Northern Snakehead BACKGROUND
Snakeheads are a diverse family of fish native to parts of China, Russia, and Korea.
Northern snakeheads were 1st confirmed in Pennsylvania in July 2004 after an angler caught and preserved two from the 17-acre Meadow Lake in Philadelphia county. PFBC biologists confirmed they were indeed northern snakeheads and captured additional ones from the lake. The lake is part of a maze of interconnected embayments and tidal sloughs and the Commission believes additional snakeheads are likely present elsewhere in the system, including the nearby lower Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.
Northern snakehead first drew attention in the mid-Atlantic region in 2002 when a pair were discovered in a Maryland pond. Northern snakeheads have been found in Florida, North Carolina, California and Massachusetts.
Northern snakeheads are a predatory fish and will compete with other fish species for forage and habitat. It is too early to say what impact the presence of snakeheads will have on other species already in Meadow Lake and other waters.
Partly based on the experiences of other states, Commission biologists have concluded that there is no practical method for eradicating snakeheads from Meadow Lake and that, given the nature of the waterway, snakeheads may have already accessed adjoining waters. The PFBC has decided that while it will continue to monitor the pond and surrounding waterways, it will take no concerted effort to eliminate the species. IF YOU CATCH ONE
Anglers catching snakeheads should dispose of them properly. Anglers suspecting they have caught a snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the Commission at 610-847-2442 or via email
. PA REGULATIONS
- It is unlawful for a person to sell, purchase, offer for sale or barter live snakehead species in Pennsylvania.
- It is unlawful to possess live snakehead species in Pennsylvania.
- It is unlawful to introduce or import live snakehead species into Pennsylvania waters.
- Transportation of live snakehead species in or through Pennsylvania is prohibited.
All snakeheads are distinguished by their torpedo shaped body, long dorsal and anal fins without spines, and toothed jaws. Northern snakeheads are typically distinguished by a flattened, pointy head with long lower jaws.
Northern snakeheads can be confused with native Pennsylvania species like the bowfin and burbot. For help telling them apart, view one of the following identification guides:
This came from the PA Fish & Boat Comm. Website
Sam, NAFC Life Member ,North Central PA