It managed to avoid capture by net and even electric shock, but a snakehead fish in a Central Park pond in Burnaby was finally snagged today (Friday).
The invasive and aggressive fish - nicknamed the "frankenfish" due to its ability to survive outside water and eat small amphibians and mammals - has now been transferred to SFU for further investigation.
Staff from the Ministry of Environment captured the fish Friday at about 11 a.m. after partially draining the pond, a process they began on Wednesday.
The draining had been temporarily halted on Wednesday by a Burnaby man who was protesting the effort, saying it would kill other animals - like the koi - that currently live in the pond. However, draining continued on Thursday.
Previous attempts to capture the fish by net and through a process called electrofishing, in which a small electrical current temporarily stuns the fish, had been unsuccessful.
The plan to drain the pond was first revealed in the June 6 Burnaby NOW.
"We are lowering the level to concentrate fish in smaller areas to assist in the fish-catch operation by (the Environment Ministry) and to study the infiltration and evaporation levels in the pond," Dave Ellenwood, the City of Burnaby's director of parks, recreation and cultural services told the Burnaby NOW previously.
"Provincial conservation officers will be on hand to identify invasives (species), and these will be removed for disposal," he said.
The snakehead saga began on May 13, when a Burnaby resident filmed a fish that appeared to be a snakehead and posted the video online, sparking a media frenzy and a hunt for the fish.
Ten days later, the provincial government and city staff dragged nets through the pond looking for the snakehead, but they came up empty-handed. Another Burnaby resident later spotted and also filmed the so-called "frankenfish."
Snakeheads are an invasive species that eat other fish, frogs and the occasional small mammal. They can breathe air and wriggle on land, travelling from one body of water to another. Because they are not native to B.C., they have no natural predators to keep them in check. They are sold as pets and as food, so it's likely someone dumped the snakehead in the pond.
Most of the fish in Central Park - koi and carp, for instance - are also invasive species, and the red-eared slider turtles seen there are dumped pets. The pond's fish will likely be killed.
"What (provincial government staff) are concerned with is finding the snakehead. If they find the snakehead, they will remove and dispose of the snakehead. If they find other species of priority concern, they will do that as well," Ellenwood said.
The Environment Ministry's Suntanu Dalal said provincial staff will be using a variety of nets to remove all non-native aquatic species from the pond in order to catch the snakehead.
"The City of Burnaby hopes to restock the pond afterwards with native species, so they have asked provincial staff to remove all non-native species that are caught," he said in an email to the NOW. "We will take them off site, keep some for analysis and humanely euthanize the rest according to animal care protocols."
Central Park's lower pond is a manmade body of water. The inflow comes from a city pipe, and the outflow runs into another creek in the park, which then flows through the city's drainage system, eventually emptying into the Fraser, Ellenwood explained.
Even though snakeheads have been known to travel on land, Ellenwood did not think the fish could make it to natural waterways, especially because the pond's outflow has been screened off.
"That would be an epic journey, but right now that's impossible," he said.