- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Just to prove how wrong we can be, we believed we'd heard the last of what put Crofton, Md., on the map after it was discovered that a small pond there contained the voracious snakehead fish. But, no, it isn't over.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has charged a Richmond pet shop manager with violating that state's regulation that prohibits the possession and sale of exotic, non-native species without a permit. If convicted, Christopher Backus, the fish department manager of the Pet Club on Parnham Road, could face up to $1,000 in fines for possessing and trying to sell a snakehead fish.
After receiving a tip from a pet shop customer that the store had the nasty Chinese critter that, if turned loose in public waters would take hold and begin to suck up native species in a way that a powerful vacuum might, the VDGIF investigated.
The fish apparently had been bought at the Parnham Road store before regulations were passed that added snakehead fish to the list of predatory and undesirable species. When the new rules took effect Jan.1, the snakehead's owner returned the fish to the store, saying it had grown too big for his aquarium. Despite the prohibition on the sale of snakeheads, which was now in effect, the store again tried to sell it.
The fish was identified as a cobra snakehead (channa marulius) and it was seized by game wardens.
Snakehead fish are thought to have no natural predators in the United States and pose a significant threat to native species. They are capable of moving short distances on land and can withstand extreme weather conditions. They are sold in the pet trade worldwide and are favored as a food fish in some cultures.
Backus is to appear in court tomorrow on charges of trading in illegal wildlife species. He was also found to have clawed frogs, yet another creature that can't be sold.
About that crossbow meeting The Maryland Department of Natural Resources wants us to pass along a slight correction of its own announcement concerning a meeting in Annapolis, April1, at 10a.m., to discuss the possible use of crossbows by Maryland hunters. The DNR now says if it's a meeting that is open to one and all, it might be overrun with more people than it can accommodate. So, if you didn't get an invitation, stay home. We'll try to find out what transpired and will pass it along.
Rockfish season is on its way Instead of the originally planned April20 opening of the recreational and charter boat spring striped bass fishery, the Maryland DNR's Fisheries Service has authorized an April19 opening, giving trophy rockfish hunters an extra day to pursue their favorite fish.
This specific change applies to Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay from Brewerton Channel south to the Virginia state line, but excludes all sounds, tributaries, creeks and rivers, except Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. Also, no fishing for trophy rockfish in the Maryland tributaries of the Potomac River downstream of the Harry W. Nice Bridge (U.S. Route 301). The Potomac River proper has its own similar season.
DNR and its crab plans reek to the heavens Tomorrow, the Maryland Fisheries Service will tell us about an implementation of what it calls Emergency Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Regulations that, upon approval of the Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review Committee (AELR) of the General Assembly, will become effective April1.
The hearing will tell you that for a large portion of the year the state's commercial crabbers will be permitted to reduce the crab minimum size from 5 inches to 5 inches. Shame on everybody who caved in to the demands of the relatively small number of commercials who catch most of our crabs. This action truly reeks to the heavens. It proves that Maryland's good ol' boy network is alive and well.
The public hearing will be at 6p.m. at the Talbot County Library, 100 W. Dover Street, Easton, Md. It's a wonder they didn't schedule the meeting somewhere in upstate New York. That way the DNR could have made sure no one showed up.

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