Angler Catches Fourth Invasive Snake-Like Fish in Missouri's Wayne County

Angler Catches Fourth Invasive Snake-Like Fish in Missouri's Wayne County

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A fourth northern snakehead, an invasive fish species native to Asia, was caught by an angler below Wappapello Lake Spillway in Wayne County, Missouri, on May 25. The capture was confirmed by a fisheries biologist from the state's Department of Conservation.

The first northern snakehead recorded in Missouri was caught in Dunklin County in 2019, with two additional captures confirmed in 2023. These aggressive predators prey on native species and compete for resources, making them a threat to local ecosystems.

Recognizing the unique characteristics of the fish, which can grow up to 3 feet long with python-like coloration and a snake-resembling head, the angler researched and identified it as a snakehead. Despite being left on the pavement for several hours, the fish survived, showcasing its ability to breathe air and survive out of water for days if its skin remains moist.

Nearly four hours after being placed in a bag, the still-alive snakehead was recovered by a local conservation agent. Northern snakeheads can also slither across land to return to water, further highlighting their adaptability.

Importing, exporting, selling, purchasing, or possessing live northern snakeheads is illegal in Missouri. The Department of Conservation continues to monitor the spread of this invasive species and urges the public to report any catches or sightings to their Southeast Regional Office.

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