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Invasive Species In Nevada Nothing New For Wildlife Officials

piranha.jpg
Courtesy/Stephen Symes
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Visitors to Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City found what appears to be a piranha carcass next to the pond.

The teeth on this fish seem ... formidable. 

When a person walking in Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City stumbled upon what appears to be a piranha carcass near the pond, it generated quite the buzz. 

What could a flesh-eating fish from South America possibly be doing in a pond in Southern Nevada? 

Well, it certainly didn't swim there, according to Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Doug Nielsen. Someone put it there, and that's a wildlife crime punishable with fines and possibly even jail. 

But it's also something that wildlife officials have to deal with regularly. Invasive, non-native species being released into the wild can have detrimental effects on the surrounding, native wildlife populations. 

“It happens on a regular basis," Nielsen said, "We are constantly dealing with situations associated with the illegal release of animals into public places.”

Nielsen pointed to several cases where non-native fish were released into local waterways and then damaged the delicate balance, putting the native fish at risk. But he also said it happens at parks as well. People might buy a cute bunny or duckling but decide they don't want it anymore and dump it at a park. That increases the animal population at a park and attracts predators, like a coyote to a public space. 

This case of an animal where it shouldn't be may have just grabbed our attention because of the teeth. 

Nielsen said they would be watching to make sure there's no other piranha in the Boulder City pond or even worse in Lake Mead. But as with all investigations, they have to have evidence of wrong doing and right now all they have is a head of a fish that looks like a piranha. 

 

Doug Nielsen, spokesman, Nevada Department of Wildlife 

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.