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Boy reels in invasive piranha-like fish from Oklahoma pond

A boy fishing in a neighborhood pond in Oklahoma found a surprise at the end of his line, officials said.

When Charlie Clinton reeled in his line, he found a pacu fish, which is a South American fish closely related to a piranha, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said on Facebook. A photo shared by the department shows Charlie grinning while showing off his catch. Another picture shows the inside of the fish's mouth, including its human-like teeth. 

The department said that Charlie is already back at the pond, looking for "his next great catch." 

Pacu have been found in Oklahoma waters in the past, the department said, and they are generally harmless to humans.

A young angler, Charlie Clinton, was fishing in a neighborhood pond over the weekend when he got an unusual bite....

Posted by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) on Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The bigger threat is when non-native pacu are dumped in Oklahoma waters, the department said. This typically happens when individuals buy the exotic fish as pets and are later surprised by their growth: Pacu can be up to 3.5 feet long and weigh 88 pounds. 

"The practice of dumping unwanted pets in waterways can be incredibly harmful to native wildlife," the department said on Facebook. "(Pacu) are an exotic, invasive species that can cause damage to our local ecosystems." 

Anyone fishing who finds a pacu should contact a local game warden, the department said. 

Fishers have caught pacu everywhere from Pennsylvania to Indiana. In 2018, another young person in Oklahoma caught a pacu while fishing in a lake. Kennedy Smith, 11, was with her grandfather when she reeled in the fish

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