Traps at Crofton pond contain a `good sign'

July 13, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

There are other fish in the pond.

Despite the invasion of a Crofton pond more than two years ago by the ravenous northern snakehead, Maryland Department of Natural Resources workers caught several kinds of native fish yesterday in the pond.

Traps meant to capture the environmentally dangerous predator instead nabbed a handful of crappies and bluegills, said DNR spokesman John Surrick.

"It's a good sign," Surrick said, a day after biologists caught 99 baby snakeheads in the pond. "There are a variety of species still out there."

Thick vegetation in the pond provides native fish with hiding places from predators such as the snakehead, Surrick said.

As DNR workers tested the trapping gear yesterday, police tacked up no-trespassing signs and staked a fence across the main entrance to the pond, where an angler hooked the first snakehead in May. Department of Natural Resources Police and reserve officers are stationed there around the clock.

Worried that the hardy fish might make its way to the nearby Little Patuxent River, biologists have kept a close eye on the pond.

Officials said Thursday that two of the nonnative fish were dumped in the pond by a Maryland resident after they outgrew his home aquarium. DNR officials and police again refused to release details yesterday about the man, saying only that he is familiar with the pond and will not be prosecuted.

One of the pond's owners said yesterday that the snakehead and the publicity it has drawn will permanently change the local fishing spot.

"This used to be a quiet little place that only locals fished at," said Danny MacQuilliam. "But now that it's sort of a novelty. ... I'm worried about people taking care of it and liability issues."

Biologists will continue to test trapping methods next week, Surrick said, and "may do some additional electroshocking."

A 10-member panel led by Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, will recommend a course of action by the end of the month. Possibilities include poisoning or draining the pond, trapping or netting the snakeheads, or electroshocking the water.

Sun staff writer Heather Dewar contributed to this report.

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