The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries (DNR) is offering $200 gift cards for dead snakehead fish, but before you grab your fishing gear there are a couple things you should know about the fish from hell.
The snakehead fish is a non-native air-breathing freshwater fish, states a fact sheet from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Native to parts of Asia and Africa, U.S. scientists have actually found four species of the fish in California, Florida, Maine, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland and Rhode Island.
A bounty has been placed on these creatures heads because they are upsetting the natural order of the local ecosystem, reports Yahoo's News Blog, The Slideshow. The species have been wiping out the local bass population. We do not want snakeheads in our waters, said the Director of DNR, Don Cosden. This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove the invasive species of fish.
To get your $200 gift card, upload a picture of yourself with a dead snakehead fish to the DNR Angler's Log site.
The snakehead fish got its name from the enlarged scales on their head. Generally a long and cylindrical fish, their mouths feature a protruding lower jaw and canine-like teeth, explains a fact sheet from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Different species vary in color and size, but the Fish and Wildlife Services have the largest one recorded at four feet in length.
Possession of the snakehead fish is illegal in some states, including Alabama, California, Florida, Texas and Washington. It is illegal for a person to import, transport or introduce a live snakehead fish or their eggs into the State of Maryland.
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The snakehead fish doesn't need to stay in water to survive. According to the Slideshow, the fish can survive on land for up to four days, allowing it to migrate. Snakehead fish are able to breath air because of an air bladder that works as a primitive lung, states a fact sheet from Virginia.
Snakehead fish are top-level predators. While they eat mostly fish, they also eat frogs and other aquatic wildlife. According to the Slideshow, the fish can bite through a steel-toed boot.
Scientists fear that the snakehead fish is able to spread parasites or diseases. The Fish and Wildlife Services fact sheet states that the snakehead fish carries a disease called Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome. Scientists are currently researching if the disease can be transferred to North American species, but the Virginia Department of Inland Game and Fisheries states that the humans can be affected by the transmission of parasites or diseases.