According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), they verified that a Red-Bellied Piranha was caught earlier in the week in University Lakes in Baton Rouge.
Red-Bellied Piranha are absolutely not native to Louisiana. They are native to South America and are normally found in the Amazon Basin. LDWF believes it was a pet from a student living on campus that they released after they couldn’t care of anymore, or they simply got rid of it because they didn’t want to catch a charge from the Justice Department.
It’s 100% illegal to have or sell piranha in the state of Louisiana. LDWF said they are currently in the process of trying to find out if there are potentially more piranha swimming in the lake. While they want them all removed, they said they do not see them as a high threat to people on campus.
“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,” LDWF wrote on their website.
Authorities say that if anyone has any information, or if someone else catches another one, they can do a few things. First, do not return the piranha to the water. Keep it out of the lake in your possession and contact Rob Bourgeois, LDWF Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator.
He will assist with getting it taken care of from there. He can be reached at [email protected], 225-765-0765 or the LDWF aquatic invasive species hotline at 225-765-3977 or via email at [email protected].
Footage below shows what it’s like when an oven-ready duck is dipped into the Amazon with Red-Bellied Piranhas.