Packer Park-Snakehead Fish Invades FDR Park
Snakehead fish first appeared at FDR Park in Packer Park about five years ago. They’re native to Asia, but they thrive in the park’s ponds.”The normal native fish are not used to it. It’s an excellent predator. It breathes air, so it doesn’t need a lot of oxygen,” said Richard Horwitz.They can survive in areas low in oxygen, and can even come back to life after being frozen! Even more unsettling, some snakehead species can walk for short distances. “There was a lot of worry that these things were going to walk out of a pond and walk into the next one,” said Horwitz. This was a big concern tho the neighbors of Packer Park.
Snakeheads can become invasive species and cause ecological damage because they are top-level predators, meaning they have no natural enemies outside of their native environment. Not only can they breathe atmospheric air, but they can also survive on land for up to four days, provided they are wet, and are known to migrate up to 1/4 mile on wet land to other bodies of water by wriggling with their body and fins. National Geographic has referred to snakeheads as “Fishzilla” and the National Geographic Channel reports that the “northern snakehead reaches sexual maturity by age 2 or 3. Each spawning-age female can release up to 15,000 eggs at once. Snakeheads can mate as often as five times a year. This means in just two years, a single female can release up to 150,000 eggs.” It is illegal to keep snakeheads as pets in many countries, as they have become an invasive species. Neighbors from Packer Park who fish these lakes often say that more and more show up every year and it seems that there is a decline in the other fish that live in these waters.
Natural Resources Inland Fisheries in Maryland consider Snakehead Fish as a devastating species and they even called it, “Fish from Hell.” And according to Don Cosden, the ongoing director of the said local government agency, they don’t want this species in their body of waters referring to lakes and ponds as well in streams just like FDR park in Packer Park. It is because it is more invasive one compared to other breeds. The State of Maryland decided this week to give up to a $200 gift card to Bass Pro Shops as a reward for killing this species. FDR park in Packer Park has the exact conditions that these fish love.
I was very interested to see how populated FDR Park, also known as “The Lakes” in Packer Park, really was. So yesterday, before I went on my daily run, I threw a fishing rod in the car. After my run , I grabbed my rod and tied on a rubber worm and cast my line. It didn’t take long, the second cast I felt a pull and saw this big splash. Sure enough, it was the snakehead that you see in these pictures. I wish I had more time to kill. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much of a fight this fish put up. Not only are these fish a blast to catch, you are actually helping the ecosystem in Packer Park FDR. I can’t think of a better way to help preserve the ecosystem than fishing in a lake infested with you target species. Just be very careful when handling these fish, they have sharp teeth and very strong jaws .
FDR Park, located in Packer Park at South Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, includes 15 tennis courts, seven softball/baseball fields, a golf course and a skateboard park. FDR park in Packer Park was chosen as the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s 2011 “Greening the Neighborhood” site and will have $250,000 to use toward improving the quality of its lakes with aerators.
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By Michael Angelina
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