Public Outrage halts states execution of Snake head ...

Red Devil

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Staff member
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Feb 23, 2006
United states of America
Public outrage halts state's execution of Clay man's pet fish

by Tom Leo / The Post-Standard Thursday February 26, 2009, 4:44 PM

Li-Hua Lan/The Post-StandardChris Deverso, of Clay, has owned this giant snakehead for 10 years.
Update, 11:50 a.m.: "Rocky'' gets a reprieve, at least temporarily.
DEC officials said today they will not pick up Chris Deverso's 10-year-old pet snakehead fish today, as originally planned.
"We kind of wanted to do this low key,'' DEC Lt. Don Pleakis said. "The word of protesters and news crews kind of changed the scenario for us, so we're going to just pull back and look at all the options.''
Pleakis said he wasn't sure when the DEC would take the fish and kill it.
"Chris still has to give up the fish; he knows that,'' Pleakis said. "But for me to go over there today . . . it's not just a good situation.''
Pleakis said he understands what Deverso is going through.
"I understand this has been his pet,'' Pleakis said. "He's called the senators, he's called the legislators. There's just no wiggle room. This has gone all the way to the commissioner's office. It's been debated. It's a decision we've got to live with, and a decision Chris has to live with.''
Pleakis said all the publicity from the case may turn out to be a good thing.
"The word of this case is getting out all over the place,'' he said. "Maybe somebody reads something and he does find the fish a home. That's still not off the table.''
Previous story:
Clay, NY -- Time has run out for a Clay man's pet snakehead fish.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation today rejected appeals from the banned fish's owner to spare the 10-year-old, 28-inch-long giant snakehead.
Chris Deverso, the fish's owner, said DEC officers will pick up the fish today.
"I've done everything I can possibly do," he said. "They're going to kill my fish."
Snakeheads have been illegal to own in the United States since 2004. Deverso purchased the fish he calls Rocky legally in 1999, before the ban.
The invasive species, originally from Asia, has a voracious appetite, often consuming all other fish in a lake or pond, and even eating its young. It can also slither across land, staying out of water for up to three days, to find new sources of food.
Deverso has been trying to convince the state his fish is not a threat to Central New York waterways.
His main argument: His type of snakehead can't survive in our cold climate. He's also found one state, Maryland, that amended its law to allow people to own snakehead like his and others that would die in cold water.
"The DEC says it doesn't have the power to give me a permit to keep the fish," he said. "A state senator couldn't help. It's not like I can call (President) Obama and ask him to give my fish a pardon."
DEC Region 7 Capt. Woody Erickson said Wednesday that after reviewing the case, the DEC determined the ban on snakeheads does not distinguish among the different species.
"It'd be very difficult for the department to distinguish these species of fish and which can and can't be kept," Erickson said. "This has risen to the highest levels of the DEC."
DEC officers are working with the owner to determine a time that's convenient to pick up the fish. "We're sensitive to the situation. This fish was a pet," he said.
The fish will be taken to a DEC facility and placed in a walk-in freezer, Erickson said. The fish's metabolism will slow and it will die.
The fish will be frozen because the owner wants to consider sending it to a taxidermist, he said.
Deverso earlier this month pleaded guilty in Clay town court to possessing an illegal fish. He met Tuesday with DEC Region 7 Director Ken Lynch and Erickson. The meeting was arranged by Sen. John DeFrancisco.
He showed them documents that his fish is a subtropical fish that can't live in cold water. He also showed them the Maryland law that bans only two of the 29 species of snakeheads -- northern and blotted snakeheads -- because they're the only two that can survive in cold water.
Deverso has contacted zoos and aquariums, including the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park in Syracuse. No one local is willing to take the fish.
Now, he's just waiting for the DEC to take the fish.
"It's really sad," Deverso said. "There's no reason this fish has to be killed."
Contact Tom Leo at or 470-6013.

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COMMENTS (379)Post a comment
Posted by slammer140 on 02/25/09 at 5:55PM
Are you kidding me??? My *** they can not grant him a permit!!! The


MFK Member
Nov 26, 2007
:headbang2:headbang2:headbang2:headbang2 :):):):)):):):):):):):):):)):):):):):):):) Rocky lives to fight another day!!


Bronze Tier VIP
MFK Member
Aug 18, 2006
According to the owner's post "Rocky" was scheduled to be put down yesterday at 2:00p

Posted by rockysowner on 02/25/09 at 6:35PM
to all supportes THANKS SO VERY MUCH ,but even with the irresbutible facts that rocky cant survive cold water that he is a tropical temp species,the fact that maryland has granfathered them in ,the dec is set to make an example out of me and rocky he will be taken and froze to death tomorrow at 2:00pm
i have had alot of calls about commming by and all are wecolme


Feeder Fish
MFK Member
He should hide it somewhere. He could say it got out or that it died. He doesn't have to provide evidence because this is not a criminal case. After this has all blown over he can put it in his house somewhere where it is not visible. They can't search his house because they will never get a warrant.


Fire Eel
MFK Member
Jan 9, 2006
new jersey
I always thought it was ok to keep the fish if it was purchased pre-ban and you don't attempt to sell,transport, or breed the fish? Any input?

Red Devil

Nice to meet you and welcome to MFK
Staff member
MFK Member
Feb 23, 2006
United states of America
If you have pics please post them,.... i could not get mine uploaded... thanks..