An invasive fish was caught in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed Tuesday.
Reports said this is the first time the northern snakehead fish, which can survive on land and in low oxygenated systems, has been found inside the state.
Matt Thomas, Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Resources Division, said anglers are the “first line of defense in the fight against aquatic invasive species.”
“Thanks to the quick report by an angler, our staff was able to investigate and confirm the presence of this species in this water body. We are now taking steps to determine if they have spread from this water body and, hopefully, keep it from spreading to other Georgia waters,” he concluded.
Reports said the invasive fish have previously been found in 14 other states and are native to the Yangtze River basin in China, according to WYFF 4.
“Invasive species are often introduced through unauthorized release. Non-native invasive species, such as the northern snakehead, have the potential to affect native species in introduced areas by competing for food and habitat,” the report stated. “In Georgia, it is unlawful to import, transport, sell, transfer or possess any species of snakehead fish without a valid wild animal license.”
The northern snakehead fish can reportedly grow up to three feet long and is described as long and thin, with a long dorsal fin and dark brown coloring.
Officials said it is important to be able to identify the invasive fish and advised anyone who believes they have caught one to kill and freeze it immediately, take photos of its mouth, fins, and tail, and note the location where it was caught.
Officials have also asked that a report of the catch be made to a regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office to help combat the problem.