Almost a year ago, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fisheries biologists confirmed a breeding population of northern snakehead, an invasive species from Asia, near Brinkley.
The population was discovered when a farmer found an unusual fish wiggling along a gravel farm road near a ditch and contacted the AGFC regional office in Brinkley.
Later this month, AGFC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel will begin a process to eradicate the invasive species from Piney Creek and its watershed.
The goal is to prevent snakeheads from threatening native fish populations in Arkansas and elsewhere in the lower Mississippi River basin. An eradication plan originally scheduled for October last year was postponed due to heavy rainfall associated with tropical storm systems Gustav and Ike.
The rainfall caused higher-than-normal water flows in Piney Creek, limiting the AGFC's ability to effectively implement the eradication plan.
Weather conditions also delayed the rice harvest in many fields adjacent to Piney Creek, another factor that hampered the eradication project.
The eradication process includes the use of helicopters, boats, ground crews and amphibious track vehicles. The crews will be spreading Rotenone, a chemical for fish eradications, which will kill out all fish in the waters where it is placed. The species was banned in Arkansas in 2002 and placed under a federal importation ban the same year because of its potential to cause problems with native fish.
However, biologists believe the species may have been brought to Arkansas before these regulations were passed.
For more information on the planned project, please contact the AGFC Regional Office in Brinkley, 877-734-4581, or the Fisheries Division in the Little Rock Office, 501- 223-6428.