Maryland offers 'Frankenfish' incentives

April 9, 2012 at 8:32 PM   |   Comments

BALTIMORE, April 9 (UPI) -- Maryland says it is offering prizes to anglers angler who catch and kill invasive snakehead fish, the second year in a row for such incentives..

The snakehead, sometimes dubbed "Frankenfish" or "Fishzilla," has been found in eight U.S. states and is a problem because as a "top level predator" it has no natural predators in the United States.

The main worry is that it may overwhelm largemouth bass in Maryland and Virginia waters, wildlife officials said.

Snakeheads were first spotted in the Potomac River in 2004 and since then have become bigger and more numerous, they said.

Last year, 69 fishermen entered the snakehead contest, killing 82 of the fish.

Anglers who catch, kill and register their snakehead with a photo through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online Angler's Log will be entered into a drawing for one $200 Bass Pro Shops Gift card, one 2013 Maryland State Parks pass and one 2013 Potomac River fishing license.

However, since a single female snakehead can spawn 15,000 eggs at once, and typically mates five times a year, the contest isn't likely to have much of an impact on the snakehead population, DNR officials said.

"We don't expect that anglers will eradicate the snakehead population," Joe Love, DNR tidal bass program manager, said in a DNR release.

"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."

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