Northern Snakeheads Caught in Conowingo Dam Fish Lift

Invasive Species Stopped at Dam But Spiked in Numbers

News Release, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Photo of Conowingo Dam

A partnership overseeing fish passage at Conowingo Dam reports that 81 northern snakeheads were caught in the dam’s fish lift this spring, a dramatic increase after only one snakehead was found there the past two years. While all known snakeheads were stopped and dispatched before reaching the dam’s reservoir, the Maryland Department of Natural Resourcesand its partners warn of a possible northern expansion by the aggressively invasive species into the Susquehanna River.

Two fish lifts were installed on the east and west sides of the Conowingo Dam decades ago to allow passage of migratory fish such as American shad and river herring. The fish lifts are critical for migratory species restoration and a requirement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

These fish lifts operate during the spring migration, which is also when snakeheads are known to travel longer distances in the watershed. All snakeheads captured this year were in the western side of the dam.

In 2017, one snakehead was observed passing from the lower Susquehanna River and upstream to Conowingo Pond through the east fish lift. An agreement was established in 2018 between the Conowingo Dam’s owner, Exelon, and the Susquehanna River Anadromous Fish Restoration Cooperative (SRAFRC) to implement voluntary, adaptive best management practices that reduce the spread of northern snakeheads while still allowing migratory fish passage.

Smaller dams upstream of Conowingo Pond, which include Holtwood, Safe Harbor, and York Haven, may also slow the spread of snakeheads in Susquehanna River to Pennsylvania and New York.

SRAFRC is an interagency cooperative organization comprised of the fishery agencies from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is increasing its efforts to educate the public about the northern snakehead, having introduced several informational videos, supplemental fact sheets and an updated webpage.

Northern snakeheads were first observed in Maryland waters in 2002, and shortly after its discovery in Potomac River in 2004, the species gained a foothold in tidal waters. Since then it has spread to every major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Anglers can catch and keep any size and any number of snakeheads year-round to help reduce the population. Anglers are also asked to report snakeheads caught in Maryland to fishingreports.dnr@maryland.gov or 410-260-8300.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.