The W.Va. Division of Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey have confirmed that a northern snakehead fish was killed in another body of water and illegally dumped into Opequon Creek near W.Va. Route 9 in Berkeley County.
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The survey received the dead fish at its Leetown Science Center April 23, according to a press release from the division.
“We want to remind sportsmen and women that it is illegal to transport non-native species to another body of water,” said state fisheries biologist Brandon Keplinger.
“This is most likely the case with this northern snakehead because it could not have made it beyond Great Falls and the impoundments on the Potomac River without being transported illegally.”
Snakehead fish pose threats to native fish, Keplinger said. They can significantly alter the state of local aquatic ecosystems and be predatory toward native species. Non-native fish also can introduce viruses, bacteria, or parasites that harm existing native fish.
The northern snakehead fish is native to East Asia. It has thoroughly colonized the lower Potomac River since its unlawful introduction in 2002.
If anyone has information regarding the illegal release of this fish into Opequon Creek, please notify the Romney Division of Natural Resources office at 304-822-3551.