Georgia wildlife officials are asking the public to let them know if anyone spots an invasive fish called the northern snakehead.
The species, which is originally from Russia and China, has recently turned up in Gwinnett County.
The northern snakehead is a big, cylindrical-shaped fish, with long fins and sort of mottled-camouflage markings. And it can survive on land for a few days.
“They’re a very, very tough fish,” said Scott Robinson, fisheries operations manager with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Robinson doesn’t know yet how widespread northern snakeheads are in Georgia; so far, five have been found in Gwinnett, an adult and four juveniles. They were in a private pond near Lilburn, on a tributary to the Yellow River.
He said it’s not an extreme problem now — we are not talking kudzu, here — but he’d hoped the fish wouldn’t show up.
Northern snakeheads compete with popular sportfish that are native to Georgia, like largemouth bass and striped bass. “So these fish will compete with them for space and for food,” Robinson said.
“They can also prey on threatened and endangered species of fish and amphibians,” he said.
The fish have been found in 14 states, according to the Georgia DNR.
The northern snakeheads may have been pets that people released into the wild.