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Reports of a predatory and invasive fish species, the northern snakehead, in Central Park's Harlem Meer are surfacing as officials aim to track down the intruder that is sometimes known as "fishzilla" or "frankenfish."
The Harlem Meer is located in the northeastern corner of Central Park and is a popular destination for city-dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of metropolis life.
Notifications regarding the arrival of the predatory fish started to appear around the area late last week.
"If you catch this fish, do not release it. Contact the authorities immediately. It does not belong and could radically alter the local fish population," the signs around Harlem Meer read, as reported by the New York Times.
The dreaded northern snakehead will eat virtually anything in its path including, fish, frogs, crayfish, beetles and aquatic insects.
To add to the predator's rap sheet, the northern snakehead is also difficult to kill. The bizarre fish can survive under ice and even live on land if it is damp enough outside.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has begun surveying the lake in an attempt to confirm sighting reports, determine how many there are, and evaluate any threats associated with their presence.
"We got a call a few months ago that an angler might have caught one," said Melissa Cohen, a regional fisheries manager for the conservation agency.
Wildlife officials will use a device to stun nearby fish as they cruise around the lake so that the specimens can be collected and observed on land.
Cohen says that the investigation will not be complete until later this week, adding that someone most likely put the snakeheads in the lake on purpose, a violation of a 2002 federal law prohibiting the possession, sale and transport of live snakeheads.