If anglers do catch the fish, they must kill them. It is not legal to keep a live snakehead. The fish is killed by removing the head, separating the gills from the body, or removing the internal organs and putting it on ice quickly. This may sound like “overkill” but they want these fish gone. They are very invasive and they want to be sure they are truly dead. Fishermen are also told to report the fish catch to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (if in Virginia) or to similar organizations in other states. The aggressive moves against these fish are because they are such an invasive species. They are on the list of undesirable and predatory exotic species. It is illegal to own one without a permit.
If someone owns a live snakehead, they are required to contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to dispose of the fish. They may be kept to be mounted provided they are killed as mentioned above, and also after having notified the department.
The reason that there are such aggressive measures being taken against snakeheads is because they can feed on an ecosystem’s forage fish and become a competitor in the ecosystem. They thus disrupt the balance within the ecosystem. They can also transmit diseases and parasites to wildlife.
One reason they are so problematic is that they have extreme capacities for being able to live in varying conditions. They are a freshwater fish, but can also tolerate salt water (particularly the young). They have been illegally introduced. They have slimy skin, sharp teeth, a huge appetite, and can survive on land for three to seven days. Because they are such voracious carnivores is the reason that any Fish and Game Departments want to know about these fish and dispose of them. They pose a threat of taking over, eating out the natural species.