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No Snakehead Bounty, Just a Raffle

April 13, 2012

Officials with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources were scrambling early this week to tamp down a story—in many news outlets—that the state was offering a $200 bounty on every snakehead caught in Maryland waters.

The reality is the same as last year: Snakehead catchers can register for a random drawing and maybe win a $200 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills, a “Passport” state park pass or a fishing license. But somehow the message morphed into a bounty-for-every-fish story that went world-wide—including a video put up by the Detroit Free Press and this Christian Science Monitor piece that remains uncorrected.

“We got some calls from Bass Pro,” says Joe Evans, a DNR spokesman. “Apparently there were some people bringing fish [to the store], demanding their gift certificates.”

Evans says he spent time earlier this week writing e-mails to editors at ABC News, United Press International, and many other outlets. He says he thinks a reporter for AOL/Patch somewhere out of state started the false rumor, but he said he wasn’t entirely sure where it originated. “We read and re-read our release,” he says. “And we couldn’t see how” it was misconstrued.

So, OK, repeat: you will not receive a $200 certificate for your snakehead. You will receive a chance to win the cert or another prize. Same deal as last year. Here’s the original release. The drawing is Nov. 30.

Oh, and did we mention, catching these things is its own reward. They fight like hell, and they taste delicious, Evans says.

“Really firm, white meat,” says Evans. “They work well on a grill. Broil ‘em. They take on the flavor of whatever you want it. I’m not gonna necessarily compare it to chicken…”.

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