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Win prizes for catching snakeheads

Sunday - 4/1/2012, 10:40am  ET

Snakehead.jpg
The Northern snakehead is a non-native, invasive species, according to DNR. (Courtesy of KYschools.us)

WASHINGTON - If the delicious meat and dangerous souvenirs weren't enough incentive to catch snakehead fish, how about up to $200 in prizes?

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is offering prizes to anglers who can land the destructive, invasive species that has many experts worried.

This follows a two-day tournament the DNR hosted last September aimed at stopping the species from expanding beyond its already surprising reach.

"We do not want snakeheads in our waters," said DNR Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden. "This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove this invasive species of fish."

Here are the prizes being offered:

  • $200 gift card from Bass Pro Shops
  • A Maryland State Passport which provides unlimited day-use entry for up to 10 passengers in a vehicle, unlimited boat launching at State Park facilities and a 10 percent discount on state-operated concessions and boat rentals
  • Potomac River Fisheries Commission fishing license

Winners must have caught the fish from the Chesapeake Bay's watershed.

Three winners will be randomly be drawn on Nov. 30, 2012.

It's unclear how the species first entered the area, though it's believed snakeheads were first introduced to a pond in Crofton, Md. The fish are able to breathe air and crawl across land for short distances, and are now rife in the Potomac River.

Scientists believed the freshwater species would not be able to survive any water more salty than brackish tributaries like the Potomac, though some were sighted in other parts of the region, like Annapolis. They would only have been able to access these areas by swimming through salt water.

Learn more about registering for the contest at the DNR website.

Check out this timeline of snakeheads in the area:

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)