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Fisherman hooks piranha -- in Illinois

UPI News Service, 07/04/2006 

An Illinois man fishing for catfish pulled a piranha from the Des Plaines River outside Chicago.

Edward Reinhart said he did not know what the large red-bellied fish on his hook was until another fisherman told him. He had already taken a few modest catfish.

"I've caught dogfish, I've caught northern pike, bass, crappies, channel catfish, carp, bullheads, sunfish, suckers," Reinhart told the Chicago Tribune. "First time I've ever seen or heard of somebody catching a piranha."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says piranha catches are unusual in the state -- but they do happen. The fish are native to South America and especially to the Amazon Basin, where they have gained an exaggerated reputation as highly carnivorous eaters that can strip a large animal to its bones in minutes.

In the United States, piranha have become aquarium fish, although they are banned in many states. The ones that turn up in Illinois are thought to be former pets freed by their owners, albeit in an environment where they are doomed to a lonely death.

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Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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