- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

CROFTON, Md. Maryland officials took steps yesterday to rid the state of the notorious snakehead fish by choking the Chinese killer fish with oxygen-killing herbicides.
"This is the beginning of the end for the snakehead fish," said Heather Lynch, Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman. "Time is up."
The DNR applied herbicides to three ponds about 6:30 a.m. yesterday.
Officials say the herbicides, diquat and glyphosate, will rob fish of oxygen, killing many in the next couple of days. Those that live will be poisoned in the next week, after vegetation is cleared from the pond.
"It's expected that as the plants start decomposing, the oxygen levels in the pond will drop and fish mortality is expected," Miss Lynch said.
A fish poison called rotenone will be applied later, after vegetation is cleared from the pond. Officials expect the poison to be applied in the next week.
"We're going to find out how effective the herbicides were and then make a decision on that," Miss Lynch said.
Levels of water quality at the pond are expected to return to normal within weeks of the herbicide and fish-poison applications because the half-lives of the chemicals are short, she said.
No snakeheads have been found in the two smaller ponds, but officials want to treat them because they may be connected to the larger pond underground.
More than 100 northern snakeheads have been found in the larger pond.
Scientists say invasive species pose potential problems to natural ecosystems, and the snakeheads are particularly worrisome because they are top predators.
If the fish proliferate, they could devastate native fish populations. Snakeheads are also tough to control because they can survive on land, breathe air and move slowly across damp surfaces.
The department decided to poison the ponds on recommendation from the 12-member Maryland Scientific Snakehead Advisory Panel.
Netting, electrofishing, explosives, the introduction of predators and draining the ponds were all ruled out as options because scientists questioned whether any of those would work.
The department said the fish got into the pond after a Maryland man dumped a male and female snakehead there two years ago after they outgrew his fish tank. The fish were discovered in May.
Dead fish will be bagged and disposed of in the Anne Arundel County landfill in Millersville beginning today.
The fish kill had been on hold while DNR officials worked to obtain permission from the pond owners, who had been concerned about liability in the event of lawsuits.
The Washington Times first reported Aug. 8 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.

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