Illegal piranha found in Louisiana State University lake

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This photo provided by The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries shows a Red-bellied Piranha. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a piranha has been found in a lake at Louisiana State University, and agents are looking in case there are more. A news release Friday, May 28, 2021 said the red piranha was probably a pet that someone released into University Lakes. (The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries via AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A piranha has been found in a lake at Louisiana State University, and fisheries agents are looking in case there are more, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Friday.

The red piranha found earlier in the week was probably a pet that someone released into University Lakes, a news release said.

Piranhas are native to the Amazon Basin in South America, and it’s illegal to possess or sell them in Louisiana, the department said.

“While their reputation in popular culture labels them as a vicious predator, piranhas are more likely to scavenge for dead or dying prey, including fish or crustaceans,” the news release said.

Still, it advised people who see a red piranha to be cautious.

“If you have information, or if you think you caught a piranha, please do not return it to the water,” it said.

Rather, it said, contact either aquatic nuisance species coordinator Rob Bourgeois rbourgeois@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-0765, or the department’s aquatic invasive species hotline at AquaticInvasives@la.gov or 225-765-3977.

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