Tonight: Snakehead Hunting at John Heinz

Learn to kill the dreaded frankenfish in the name of science.

The invasive Northern Snakehead fish can survive on land for three days and in water indefinitely. (Brian Gratwicke/Flickr)

All summer long, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge — a big, gorgeous stretch of protected marshland near the airport — is hosting Snakehead Fishing Nights, calling on the public to help rid their waters of the dreaded “frankenfish.” Why is this organization, usually dedicated to keeping animals alive, so intent on killing these particular fish?

Here’s what we know about the Northern Snakehead:

  • They’re an invasive species, imported from China, with no natural predators in North America besides all the things that usually eat fish.
  • They breathe air, meaning they can squirm around on land whenever they want to.
  • They are slimy and have teeth.
  • They have snakes for heads.
  • Adult snakeheads eat other fish and frogs. Sometimes they eat mammals, including rats.
  • Oh so now we like rats?
  • The species is sometimes called the “frankenfish” because you can just name things whatever apparently.
  • OMFG I just watched a video where some dude tries to catch one using a duckling as bait. Don’t look it up.
  • Snakehead fish have been found in FDR Park, the Schuylkill River and video games.
  • The Syfy network has released three informative films about this animal: Snakehead Terror (2004), Frankenfish (2004) and Swarm of the Snakehead (2006).
  • Snakehead fish dream of sprouting hands and seeing what kind of trouble they can get into that way.

The next Snakehead Fishing Night at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is tonight, July 27, 4-8 p.m. Staff will provide you with all the equipment, bait and instruction you need. The event is free and kid-friendly, though the topic of death will probably come up. More Snakehead Fishing Nights will take place Aug. 3, 17 and 31.

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