Invasive snakehead fish confirmed for the 1st time in the Shenandoah Valley

Photo of a Northern Snakehead fish provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
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FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — An invasive species of fish has been found for the first time in the Shenandoah Valley.

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, biologists confirmed the presence of Northern Snakehead in Lake Frederick, in Frederick County, on May 16.

The exotic species was first discovered in Virginia in the Potomac River in 2004. Since that time, they have been discovered in nine additional bodies of water, including Lake Anna, Lakeview Reservoir, the Rappahannock River and Lake Burke.

Last year, the fish was found for the first time in the James River drainage system.

Now, it's been confirmed for the first time in the Shenandoah 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, dispute frequently being depicted as being able to. They are able to breathe air and survive on land, however.

Instead, most new occurrences of the fish are caused by people intentionally stocking them into new bodies of water.

But 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 VDGIF by calling (804) 367-2925. You're also asked to kill any snakehead after it's captured.

Anglers are allowed to keep Northern Snakeheads, but they must be dead in possession (contained in a live well, cooler, etc.) and reported to officials.

To report wildlife violations, you can call 1-800-237-5712..