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'Frankenfish' To Be Banned

The land-walking snakehead fish that is native to Asia has been found in seven states and the Bush administration will announce Tuesday a ban on U.S. imports of the predatory fish.

The snakehead, which can grow up to 3 feet long, eats other fish and can walk across land to find new sources of food in other lakes and streams. The fish can stay out of water for up to three days.

The fish came to attention this summer after several snakeheads were found in a Maryland pond. The so-called Frankenfish had been dumped there by a local resident who had initially imported them to make soup.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton will make the announcement that 28 species of snakehead fish will be subject to a government import and trade ban, unless a special permit is granted.

Snakeheads have been found in six other states: Hawaii, Florida, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to the Interior Department.

On Tuesday, Norton was also to discuss what the government will do to help affected states destroy the fish.

Draining lakes that have snakeheads runs the risk of pumping water with some of the infant fish into nearby lakes and streams.

Maryland officials are considering the possibility of poisoning the lake where the snakeheads were found.

The freshwater fish has a wide mouth and heavy scales, making it look like a snake's head and allowing it to swallow prey as large as it is.

Adults eat fish, frogs, aquatic birds and small mammals, while juvenile snakehead fish prey on earthworms, water bugs, tadpoles, dragonfly larvae and other organisms.

With sharp teeth and powerful jaws, large snakeheads are able to bite other fish in half.

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