VERIFY: Are there Piranhas in the Shenandoah River?

We verify if Piranhas are in the Shenandoah River.

WASHINGTON (WUSA) - QUESTION:

Are there Piranhas swimming around in the Shenandoah River?

ANSWER:

Absolutely not. 

SOURCES:

Paige Pearson- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Marketing and Public Relations Manager 

Captain Steve Chaconas- U.S. Coast Guard Captain, Shenandoah Expert

PROCESS:

A good rule of thumb, every verify process begins with extensive research of the site where the article originated. The article, with the headline "Piranhas Attack in Shenandoah River," came from a site called "breakingnews365." It claimed that a child threw a stick for his Labrador to fetch into the Shenandoah River, and the dog was bitten by a pack of piranhas. 

Breakingnews365 is a self-revealed fake news site intended to help people "prank your friends now!" The site allows anyone to create an article and but it out on the world wide web.

However, people shared this particular article more than 80,000 times, and the number keeps increasing.

The article claims to have gotten their information from the "State of Virginia Department of Game and Fishes."

Verify checked with the actual state agency--the State of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries-- who say piranhas in the Shenandoah is ludicrous. 

"This accusation is false," Paige Pearson, said. "To my knowledge that's false news, but I don't even think there are piranhas in the Shenandoah or in the area around there. That's not accurate." 

For extra insurance, Verify confirmed with U.S. Coast Guard Captain Steve Chaconas, who's waded the Shenandoah countless times over decades.

"Haven't seen them in the Shenandoah, haven't seen 'em in my bathtub either," Chaconas said. 

Typically warmer weather brings these stories out to the spotlight, as more and more people engage in boating and water sports.

We can conclusively verify, no pack of piranhas are lurking in the Shenandoah feasting on Laradors, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries never received a call from any reporter about piranhas before our Verify team. 

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© 2017 WUSA-TV


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