- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

CROFTON, Md. (AP) Experts at the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have found that eradicating the invasive northern snakehead fish is not as simple as dumping a fish-killing substance into the pond.
Bureaucratic hurdles, vacationing agency staff and a lack of the Crofton pond owners' permission have thrown up roadblocks.
"It's a very large logistical problem," Steve Early, program director for the DNR's restoration-enhancement program, told the Baltimore Sun.
Maryland has not used a fish poison to eradicate an exotic invasion in decades. That means the fisheries managers are writing much of the plan as they go.
Fisheries experts are planning to use two herbicides glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup, and diquat dibromide to kill all vegetation in the pond and lower the oxygen levels.
About a week later, they will apply the root-based rotenone, which in recent lab tests killed juvenile snakeheads within hours.
The snakehead fish a native of northern China was discovered in the pond in June. A local man admitted to DNR police that he dumped two snakeheads one male and one female into the pond two years ago after they outgrew his aquarium.
By last month, when biologists caught more than 100 juveniles in the pond, the state's scientific panel urged the DNR to apply the poison before stormy weather carries the fish to the Little Patuxent River, 75 yards away.
The DNR needed permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment to use the chemicals. Then, it needed to make sure that enough people were certified to apply the chemicals a function the state Department of Agriculture performs.
The workers, who will pump the chemicals into the pond from boats, will have to wear respirators and needed to learn to use them, and get health evaluations.
Mr. Early hit a snag when he learned that diquat can be applied to only half the pond at one time, with the other half applied two weeks later, to preserve fish populations.
So the staff had to apply for an exception to the permit so they could use the dose of diquat all at once. Once the herbicides hit the pond, biologists with nets will be on hand to catch the pond's many turtles.
About a week after applying the herbicides, the oxygen levels in the pond will drop to nearly zero, killing some of the fish and creating optimal conditions for applying rotenone.
Disposal of dead fish will begin the day after the DNR applies the herbicides and will continue every day for weeks. Biologists will bag most of the fish in industrial trash bags and take them to the Anne Arundel County landfill in Millersville, where they will be buried.
The DNR can't proceed without permission from the pond owners, who are concerned about their liability in the event of lawsuits and want better protection from the state. The Washington Times first reported on Thursday that Danny MacQuilliam, whose company owns the four-acre pond and an adjoining strip mall in Anne Arundel County, had denied the state permission to poison the pond.
Negotiations are continuing and officials say they hope to take action this week.

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