The alligator gar, a weird-looking prehistoric fish dreaded by local fishermen for feasting on sportfish and which went extinct in many U.S. states, may be the ultimate weapon against an unchecked Asian carp invasion.
The bizarre animal can currently be found in the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River, and other locations across southern states. Farther north the animal was declared extinct. Anglers often described the alligator gar as a freak fish that needed extermination.
However, the once-hated fish could now help states get rid of an invasive species of fish which reproduces uncontrollably: the Asian carp. Authorities are now planning to reintroduce the prehistoric animal in the north.
Allyse Ferrara from the Nicholls State University in Louisiana explained that no other fish species can fight the gigantic Asian carp. Adult alligator gars can grow larger than a horse and outweigh a fridge.
Furthermore, the alligator gar has an appetite for the monster carp like no other fish species does.
Asian carps, which now pose a real threat to native fish species since they reproduce too fast, can grow up to 4 feet and weight up to 100 pounds. The largest known gar, on the other hand, was weighed more than 300 pounds and was 8-ft-long. Experts believe that the animal can grow larger than that.
Gar experts said that natives used the creature’s scales to manufacture arrow points, while colonists used their skin for various purposes. However, modern-day anglers chased it close to extinction as they believed that it feeds on their precious sportfish.
To kill them more rapidly, fishermen often used explosives or guns.
“Some horrible things have been done to this fish,”
The expert added that the animal is not a danger to sportfish as it can protect fisheries from invasive species such as the Asian carp. Ferrara explained that in the U.S. wolves were also hunted to their extinction as people failed to understand their role within natural ecosystems.
Reports show that several states are quietly reintroducing the gar in their lakes and rivers. Illinois took more drastic measures and passed legislation two months ago to protect all gar species within the state’s limits.
But some critics don’t expect the gar to be a silver bullet in the carp invasion issue because the fish could lure trophy hunters who could exterminate them even before they reach adulthood.
Image Source: Wikipedia