Burnaby 'fishzilla' evades officials, not video camera
Published Sunday, May 27, 2012 6:49PM PDT
It's a notorious fish that refuses to be caught – except on camera.
The 18-inch, torpedo-shaped snakehead lurking in a Burnaby park lake dodged attempts by government officials to catch it last week.
But when Burnaby resident Bruce Causier came to Central Park with his video camera on Friday, there it was on the north side of the lake, floating just below the surface, enjoying the sun.
"When the guys from the government came here with the big nets and everything, it knows. It takes off and it hides pretty good," he said.
Causier says it's the second time he's caught the fish on camera, and by now he's developed a grudging respect for it.
"Oh, yeah, it's not a stupid fish. It's smarter than the average human," he said.
It may be smart, but it's also aggressive and has been known to swallow animals up to two-thirds its size.
The fish is native to Asia where it is eaten as a delicacy.
But in large numbers the fish poses a potential threat to B.C.'s ecosystem. It has no natural predators here and if it finds a way to reproduce the population could explode, as has happened in some American bodies of water.
Right now, the fish is confined to Lower Pond in Burnaby's Central Park. But it can travel short distances over land, creating fears that it could somehow make it to the Fraser River.
Environment ministry officials say they're going to return to the pond in a few weeks for another try at capturing it. Because they didn't find any young snakeheads, they don't believe the fish is reproducing.
Right now, it is legal to import the fish into B.C., but the province's Ministry of Environment says it's hoping to change that.
A spokesperson says it's considering a ban on possession of the fish in B.C., and says it's looking at changing the B.C. Wildlife Act to control the possession and release of non-native animals.
Right now, the act only covers wildlife that poses a health and safety risk to people, but the province wants to expand that list to include species that pose a risk to the environment.