- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

BALTIMORE State officials will poison the invasive and predatory northern snakehead fish that have been multiplying in a Crofton pond, a state official said yesterday.
J. Charles Fox, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said he agreed with recommendations from a panel to use plant and fish poison to kill the fanged, torpedo-shaped carnivore from China.
"I feel confident that this is the most effective and efficient course of action," Mr. Fox said in a statement.
The department said the assault will have two parts.
First, department staff will apply the herbicides diquat dibromide and glyphosate, which is also known as Rodeo, to the pond to kill vegetation.
The chemicals are expected to reduce oxygen levels to kill the fish.
The herbicides will be sprayed into the water from boats by department personnel.
One to two weeks later, a fish poison called Rotenone will be applied to finish off any surviving snakeheads, which have spooked environmentalists and grabbed headlines.
The poison is commonly used to control fish populations because it quickly and naturally degrades within days and poses no threat to humans or other animals.
The department did not say when the poisoning would begin.
It plans to remove dead fish daily. However, state officials have warned that they expect unpleasant odors.
Department Fisheries Service personnel and Maryland Natural Resources Police have been assigned to monitor the 9-acre pond.
Water-quality levels at the pond are expected to return to normal within weeks of the herbicide and piscicide applications, the department said.
Although scientists believe that all invasive species can cause problems to natural ecosystems, the snakeheads are particularly worrisome.
That's because they are top predators. If the fish proliferate, they could devastate native fish populations.
The fish, which are a delicacy in Singapore, can survive on land, breathe air and move slowly across damp surfaces.
The department said a Maryland man dumped a male and female snakehead in the pond two years ago, and the fish are apparently reproducing. The fish were discovered in May.
Among the options ruled out for killing the fish were netting, trapping, electrofishing, introducing predators, using explosives and draining the pond. They were all deemed unlikely to be 100 percent successful.
The 12-member Maryland Scientific Snakehead Advisory Panel decided the state had to act.
The fish, which grows to more than 3 feet long and eats other fish threatened to throw the natural ecosystem off kilter, they said.

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