In order to combat an invasive species of fish, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources put a bounty on the snakehead fish’s head. The DNR is encouraging fishermen in the area to seek out the snakehead fish with the incentive of a $200 gift card.
DNR Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden said:
“We do not want snakeheads in our waters. This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it’s important to catch and kill this invasive, non-native species of fish.”
This isn’t the first time that the Maryland DNR has issued a snakehead bounty. The department announced it’s first contest last April and in January they said that more than 70 anglers had entered the contest and caught close to 100 snakeheads.
The DNR writes:
“The Northern Snakehead is a highly-regarded Asian species and was introduced to the Potomac River most likely by people intent on serving this exotic fish in an underground market. Snakeheads are voracious, invasive, non-native predators with the potential to greatly affect the ecosystem as they prey on other local forage and game fish.”
The snakehead bounty program worked so well that they decided to offer up more prizes for the 2012 fishing season. According to the DNR website, the program doesn’t just remove a few snakeheads from the water, but it also gives the DNR information about how many fish are in the area.
Josh Newhard, a snakehead biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, said:
“This contest was a great way for us to see how many snakeheads are being caught in the Potomac. We hope anglers continue to target and remove this species from the waters of Maryland and Virginia.”
Joe Love, DNR Tidal Bass program manager, added:
“We don’t expect that anglers will eradicate the snakehead population. We do believe this promotion and inspiration of anglers can help control the snakehead population. The information we gain from the Angler’s Log reports are also helpful in assessing the abundance, spread and impact of these feisty fish.”
Here’s a video from last year’s contest.
The Maryland DNR department will announce the winner of the 2012 snakehead bounty program this November. The winner will be chosen randomly to win a $200 Bass Pro Shop gift card, a fishing license, or a Maryland State Parks Passport.