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For Release: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

DEC Investigating Prevalence of Invasive Northern Snakehead in Bashakill Marsh After Angler Report

DEC Assessing Situation to Prevent Further Spread

Anglers Encouraged to Report Sightings to DEC

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the agency is investigating the prevalence of the invasive northern snakehead fish in Bashakill Marsh in Wurtsboro, Sullivan County, after a recent angler report from the area.

Northern snakeheads are long, thin fish with a single fin running the length of the back. These invasive fish are generally brown with large, dark blotches along their sides and can grow up to three feet in length. Northern snakeheads have a somewhat flattened head and a large mouth with many teeth. Juveniles feed on a wide variety of microscopic organisms, insect larvae, and crustaceans that native fish rely on for food. As adults, northern snakeheads feed mostly on other fish species, but also crustaceans, reptiles, mammals and small birds. Visit DEC's website for more information about northern snakehead.

DEC encourages anglers to report sightings of northern snakehead to support the state's ongoing efforts to stop the spread and establishment of this invasive fish. Removal of these animals from the environment can be challenging if a population becomes well established or if physical conditions of the waterbody render efforts ineffective.

On Aug. 16, DEC's Region 3 Fisheries Unit received a report of an angler catching a northern snakehead in the Bashakill Marsh. The angler submitted a photo and DEC confirmed the fish was a northern snakehead. DEC immediately posted signs at access sites on the marsh asking anglers to report the sighting or capture of northern snakeheads. In addition, DEC Fisheries staff conducted an electrofishing survey to assess the extent of the invasion. DEC did not find additional northern snakehead, but the Bashakill is heavily vegetated this time of year, making sampling difficult.

DEC will undertake a larger sampling effort when aquatic vegetation begins to die back. Until that time, DEC is taking water samples throughout the marsh in an effort to detect the potential of northern snakehead environmental DNA. Results from this effort will provide biologists with background information and advance a more effective electrofishing sampling.

Any northern snakehead caught should be immediately killed and reported to the Region 3 Fisheries Office in New Paltz at (845) 256-3161 or email at

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  • DEC Region 3 Office - Wendy Rosenbach
    21 South Putt Corners Road
    New Paltz, NY 12561
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