Maryland to Poison Pond to Kill Snakehead Fish

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August 7, 2002

Maryland to Poison Pond to Kill Snakehead Fish

Officials choose the method over draining or electroshock to eradicate the predator.

Reuters

WASHINGTON -- Maryland's Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that it would use poison to kill the land-crawling snakehead fish found in a local pond to stop the predator from spreading into the state's waterways.

The snakehead, a native of China that grows up to 3 feet long and can crawl across land, was discovered this summer by a fisherman in a pond in Crofton, Md., raising fears that it could devastate local fish populations.

State officials said they would adopt the recent recommendations of a scientific panel to use herbicides and the pesticide Rotenone to kill the snakeheads as well as the other fish in the pond.

That means the state later this week will first spray herbicides to destroy plants in the pond that could hide and protect the snakeheads. The chemicals will cause oxygen levels to drop, and the fish should die, the department said.

One to two weeks after the herbicides are applied, Rotenone will be added to eliminate any remaining fish.

An alternative plan to drain the pond would have risked allowing baby snakeheads to escape in the water pumped into a river, officials said. Other options, such as large-scale netting or electroshocking the water, were also rejected.

The Bush administration has proposed banning imports and trade across state lines of snakeheads. Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton called the fish something from "a bad horror movie."

Two snakeheads, which have been nicknamed "Frankenfish," were dumped in the Maryland pond by a resident who bought them from a live fish market to make soup.

About 100 baby snakeheads were later found in the pond.

The species has been imported from China to the U.S. by seafood sellers and aquarium shops.
 
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