PALM SPRINGS — Now swimming in a pond near you: Ferocious razor-toothed predators direct from the Amazon River basin.
A boy fishing last month in a pond near his condo complex, at Arabian Road and Lake Arbor Drive, pulled from the water not the bass or catfish he was used to but a writhing, red-bellied piranha.
Ten days later, officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission combed the same pond and discovered a second piranha lurking beneath the surface. Investigators said the toothy fish probably were kept as pets, a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine in Florida, before their owners turned them loose.
In response, wildlife officers this morning were plying the roughly four-acre pond with rotenone fish poison, an "extreme measure" meant to kill off any piranha still hiding out there, said wildlife commission spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro.
As a side effect, the effort also will kill every other fish living in the pond.
Which ruined Darrin Duchene's day. The Palm Springs man said his son, Jake, who angled the piranha on Oct. 13, grew up fishing the pond.
"He's come back with every strange fish there is," said Duchene, remembering times Jake turned up with peacock bass and a Jaguar Guapote, a fish native to Central America.
He recalled the day a month ago Jake caught the piranha.
"I was sitting in my chair and he came running in. He said he saw a bunch of minnows getting torn up. He cast his line in there and, boom, kind of snagged it in the top of the head," Duchene said. "He ran over and said, 'Dad! Dad! I caught a piranha!'"
"I said, 'No way.' "
But, peering down at the fish, Duchene had to admit it looked exactly like the ones he had seen on the Discovery Channel.
"We had him in a zip-lock bag, and he was flipping around for probably 20 minutes. He was a big, tough one," Duchene said.
They called the wildlife commission, and an officer came and "seized the piranha for further investigation," the officer's report said.
The Duchene's gave up the fish reluctantly.
"I wanted to keep it so I could get it mounted for him, because nobody has a piranha," Duchene said. "He said they might give it back to us."
As wildlife officers poisoned his pond this morning, Duchene said he regretted ever calling them.
"All the years of enjoyment, for them to come wipe out that place, that's freakin' tragedy," he said. "That is terrible. That'll break my son's heart."
Look, you may think that having a piranhan mounted on your wall is cool, and you may be the first kid on your block to do so, but lets look at the facts here:
-Piranhas are from the Amazon
-The Amazon is not in Florida
-Piranhas from the Amazon somehow have made it to Florida
-Piranhas from the Amazon made it into a pond in Florida
If Piranhas from the Amazon can find a way into your pond behind your house, then I do not want to have a Piranha on my wall when it finds a way into my freaking house ... and it will ... oh yes, it will ...