New species of land-dwelling fish officials want to kill immediately

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Georgia wildlife officials are warning people about the snakehead fish, an invasive type of fish that has been spotted around the state for the first time.

Anyone who catches one of these fish is asked to kill it immediately. The snakehead's capture in Georgia is a first for the Peach State.

© Steve Ruark, AP A Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist holds an adult northern snakehead fish in this file photo.

The department's advice for what Georgia residents should do upon finding a northern snakehead, which can breathe air, is simple.

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"Thanks to the quick report by an angler, our staff was able to investigate and confirm the presence of this species in this water body. We are now taking steps to determine if they have spread from this water body and, hopefully, keep it from spreading to other Georgia waters", Thomas said. The United States Department of Agriculture says that the snakefish is "injurious wildlife", and is under federal regulation. Their breathing ability makes it possible for them to navigate to other small areas of land and new bodies of water. The snakehead is a long, thin fish, similar in appearance to the native bowfin.

The snakehead fish is a non-native invasive species.

The invasive species has the potential to impact native wildlife by competing for food and habitat. The unique fish can survive up to four days out of water if it's kept moist, and it can remain immobile, but alive, in mud during drought, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program. The Northern Snakehead fish is a predator itself so the concern is that if left unchecked the fish could eliminate the local fish population. The likelihood is that they were introduced via some sort of unauthorised release, although what motive somebody would have for doing this is less clear.

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