Fisherman catches piranha in North Carolina lake, officials say. How did it get there?

Screengrab from NC Wildlife Resources Commission Facebook

A fisherman caught a piranha in a North Carolina lake, according to wildlife officials.

The fish was caught in Aberdeen Lake in Moore County, about 70 miles southwest of Raleigh, according to a post on Facebook shared by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on Sept. 27.

Officials say the piranha was likely a pet that outgrew its tank and “was tossed into the lake by its owners.”

Chad Ray, a fisherman from Aberdeen, was at the lake with his family celebrating his son’s birthday when two other fishermen showed him the fish, which they had caught earlier, the Sandhills Sentinel reported

He later took the dead fish home and put it in his freezer, according to The Pilot. He posted about the catch on Facebook, and the post was shared more than 20,000 times, the outlet reported.

Ray also posted a video of the caught fish on Facebook on Sept. 25.

Piranhas are carnivorous fish with razor-sharp teeth native to South America, according to Britannica. Despite their teeth, piranhas rarely attack people, according to the Berkshire Museum in Massachusetts. Red-bellied piranhas are known to be the most aggressive.

Many piranhas found in nature outside their natural habitats are pets that were dumped by their owners, according to the site.

Fish biologists in North Carolina say they weren’t concerned that the piranha caught in Aberdeen Lake could have sustained itself there.

“Piranha are warm water fish and would not survive the winter in North Carolina,” the statement says.

In North Carolina, it’s illegal to “transport, purchase, possess, sell, or stock piranha in the state’s public or private waters,” wildlife officials said.

Adam Crocker, parks and recreation director in Aberdeen, told the Sandhills Sentinel that the species has never appeared in North American waters without an owner disposing of it.

“There are no concerns about the safety of those using the park,” he told the outlet.

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