News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Asks Anglers To Catch And Kill Snakehead Fish

Annapolis, MD (May 19, 2010) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that they are required by regulation to kill Northern Snakehead fish, if caught and kept. Snakehead fish, an invasive species, have started to thrive in the Potomac River and its tributaries.

“We want you to catch and kill snakeheads,” says DNR Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden. “This is not a species that we want in our waters.”

Maryland fishing regulations allow the taking of snakeheads, so long as the fish is:
• immediately killed and its head removed
• gutted
• both gill arches are removed, or
• the fish is filleted.

Otherwise, the capture and possession of snakeheads is not subject to any season, creel limit or size limit.

Maryland does not require the reporting of snakehead catches. DNR asks that anglers report any snakeheads caught outside of Potomac tidal waters by contacting Don Cosden at or call (410) 260-8287. This will help DNR track the expansion of the species.

Anglers in Virginia waters who catch a snakehead must immediately kill the fish and subsequently report the catch. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fish hot line is (804) 367-2925.

Federal law prohibits the import of live snakeheads in to the U.S. or across state lines without a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

   May 19, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at