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Maryland offering $200 gift card for dead snakehead fish

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(AP/Ed Wray)

Getting paid to fish sounds like a dream come true to some. But does it have the same appeal if you're going up against a "fish from hell" that can travel on land and sink its teeth into a steel-toed boot?

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries (DNR) is hoping so and is offering a $200 gift card through Bass Pro Shops to one lucky resident who captures and kill a snakehead, an invasive species from Africa that is upsetting the natural order of the local ecosystem. The winner will be selected through a randomly lottery conducted by the DNR.

"We do not want snakeheads in our waters," DNR Director Don Cosden tells FoxNews.com. "This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove this invasive species of fish."

The snakehead was first seen in Maryland back in 2002, after an 18-inch adult was caught in a local pond. But the powerful fish, which has no natural predators in the region, is also a determined survivalist (they can survive for up to four days on land) and has since migrated to the nearby Potomac River and its tributaries.

It's illegal to sell snakeheads in most U.S. states. But as I reported several years ago, federal agents have uncovered illegal snakehead selling operations in several states, including New York, Texas, Florida and Missouri.

"We don't expect that anglers will eradicate the snakehead population," DNR Tidal Bass program manager Joe Love told Fox. "We do believe this promotion and inspiration of anglers can help control the snakehead population. The information we gain from the Angler's Log reports are also helpful in assessing the abundance, spread and impact of these feisty fish."

To qualify for one of the $200 gift cards and an assortment of other prizes, all you have to do is upload a photo of yourself with a dead snakehead to the DNR's Angler's Log site. The only complicated part is actually capturing and killing one of the "fish from hell."

One photo uploaded on Thursday by recreational angler Berry shows him with seven dead snakehead. He says he had to shoot them with a gun. Berry wrote that the snakehead have been noticeably devastating the local bass population. "The snakehead are simply taking over the spawning grounds," he wrote.

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dnr.state.md.us

UPDATE: [4/10/12] This story has been changed from its original version to reflect new information

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