Georgia's Department of Natural Resources has a message for anglers: If you catch a northern snakehead, kill it immediately.

Northern snakeheads are invasive fish that can breathe air and survive for days on land.

An angler recently reported catching one in a private pond in Gwinnett County.

 

How it got there is a mystery. State wildlife officials said in a press release it's the first time the species has been confirmed in Georgia waters. It's been found in 14 other states.

Snakeheads are native to Asia. They're long, thin and up to 3 feet long, colored blotchy brown. Their dorsal fins stretch along the entire back.

Officials urge anglers who catch one to do the following, according to Georgia's Department of Natural Resources:

  1. DO NOT RELEASE IT.
  2. Kill it immediately and freeze it. They can survive on land.
  3. If possible, take pictures of the fish. Include close ups of its mouth, fins and tail.
  4. Note where it was caught like the waterbody, landmarks or GPS coordinates.
  5. Immediately report it to your regional Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Office.

A species is considered invasive when it moves into an ecosystem that has not evolved to control it. Once a species gains a foothold in territory without its natural predators, it can multiply rapidly.