Invasive snakehead fish found in Virginia reservoir

Photo: USGS
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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (AP) — Virginia officials are reporting another finding of an invasive northern snakehead fish.

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said in a news release Friday that biologists confirmed the presence of the fish in a Colonial Heights reservoir on April 27.

The northern snakehead was first discovered in Virginia in the Potomac River in 2004. The news release says since that time, they've been discovered in nine additional bodies of water, including Lake Anna, the Rappahannock River and Lake Burke.

Until this, the most recent confirmed discoveries were in the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Lake Anna, and Massey Creek in 2017.

According to a release, this capture represents the first confirmed occurrence of this species in the James River drainage system.

Exotic species like snakeheads can feed on or compete with native fish and transmit parasites and diseases to native wildlife.

The department says Northern Snakeheads are not capable of moving across land, even though they are frequently depicted as being able to.

Most new occurrences of the fish are caused by people intentionally stocking them into new bodies of water. Doing so is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine or both.

Anyone who captures a Northern Snakehead should take a picture of it and contact DGIF by calling (804) 367-2925.

Anglers are allowed to keep Northern Snakeheads, but they must be dead in possession and reported to officials.