Refuge News

An unwelcome intruder was discovered by refuge and U.S. Geological Survey  biologistswhile taking  fishsamples from Belknap lake(just south of Hwy 1) last week.   

It’s a non nativeinvasive species of  fishthat breathes air, walks on land, has a scale pattern  thatresembles that of a diamondback rattlesnake, and a sports a wickedly ferocious set of  “canine like” teeth that enable it to attack and eat  everythingin its sight.  It's  a top level predator with a   reputation so hideous  somefisherman  referto it as"Frankenfish".  Refuge biologists like Jay Hitchcock know it as the Northern Snakehead fish.  By whatever name, if left unchecked,  our sportfishing might be impacted  througheither direct predation on our crappie, bass and bream and/or  throughindirect competition for their food.   

Here’s how you can help. 

1.  Learn to identify Northern Snakehead fish.   At first glancethey have the appearance of our native Bowfin(grinnel)  but the long, 20 plus rays of the anal fin isthe DEAD GIVEAWAY.   Bowfin haveonly 9-10.  See graphic below.
2.  Fisherman areasked to kill  anyNorthern Snakehead fish they catch and/or  report sightingsto the refuge office by calling  870-282-8200.   (Note: Snakeheads can live a day or two out of water so  throwing them out onto the bank won't do it.  Remember they have the potential to crawl back into the lake.)

fwsfile photo


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