Northern Snakehead
1. What is a Northern Snakehead?

The Northern Snakehead is an invasive species of fish, native to China and with probable homes in Russia and Korea.
They are considered a highly invasive species because it preys on all the natural species in an ecosystem and has no predators itself.
The definition of an invasive species is…
A species that is not native to the ecosystem under consideration whose introduction causes or is likely
to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”
http://council.wisconsinforestry.org/invasives/urban/pdf/DefinitionInvasiveDRAFT2.pdf

The scientific name for the Snakehead is the Channa Argus. It was first discovered in the United States in 2002, in a Maryland pond. The find caused quite a scare leading to the entire decontamination of the pond. Some believe that the fish was brought into the United States as pets and were released by their owners into ponds without thinking of the consequences.
Photo of snakehead.
Photo of snakehead.

Picture URL:
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fishingreport/snakehead.html

2. Threat to the Environment

These fish are very dangerous due to their abilities that allow them to stay alive. The fish can also live very easily through winters because of their natural eating habits. They also can apparently walk out of the water and on to land and drag themselves a distance to another water source. Since the fish eat almost all other species of fish it is very easy for them to reproduce quickly and overtake a lake or pond. This was shown when the little Maryland pond snakehead found their way into the much larger Potomac River, a river that runs through Washington D.C.

3. Impact

The Northern Snakehead feed on almost all native fish in their environment, killing off all other fish. They eat everything lowering biodiversity, and killing many fish that are helpful to the environment. They eat many at a time too, as pets they are fed up to 8$ worth of goldfish a day. It would not take long for an entire ponds population to be taken over and the Snakeheads to migrate to another body of water. Many state governments have put out notices to immediately kill any snakeheads caught, take pictures and report to the state DNR.

4. Location

There have been confirmed finds in:
external image GetStaticMap.aspx?region=us&width=700&height=450&layer=sts%20shuc6%20shuc8%20snativehuc%20bnds%20maptitle%20logo%20legend%20copy&maptitle=Channa%20argus%20&speciesid=2265

- Maryland
-Pennsylvania
-California
-Florida
-Rhode Island
-Hawaii
-Massachusetts
-New Jersey
-North Carolina
-Arkansas
-Illinois

5. Government response

The government is very afraid of the effects the fish could have on the local ecosystems. Many ponds or streams were poisoned after the first catch of a Snakehead. Some states have documents with plans on what to do in the case if the northern snakehead invading a body of water. One such state is Massachusetts. Their plan organizes the process of testing and identifying a snakehead invasion and listing plans to eradicate the problem. The plans include doing nothing, draining all the water or stopping the flow, removing every individual fish, and poisoning the water. Some of the responses are rather over the top there are no other solutions. The U.S. government hopes to completely rid or control the population of hazardous Snakeheads in North America not just the United States.
Thus it is essential to report any findings of the Northern Snakehead.

Citation