Nutria, a 2-foot-long rodent, is hurting California wetlands by digging deep burrows and damaging levees, dams, and plants. In 1899, Nutria were carried from South America to the US. In 2017, they were first spotted in central California.
Every day, nutria can eat plants weighing up to a quarter of their body. Nutria can be found all over the world except for Australia and Antarctica.
Nutria are hard to control in California because they live on private land and can easily move from one area to another. Officials removed around 220 nutria from the Mendota Wildlife Refuge in four weeks last year.
Nutria don’t make dens, but instead, they dig burrows that can weaken levees, foundations, and banks. Maryland eradicated over 14,000 nutria from the Chesapeake Bay region between 2000 and 2015 through the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project (CBNEP).
Oregon has an open season on nutria all year, while Louisiana offers a bounty for them, and Texas has declared them the “most unwanted” species. California is using Maryland’s CBNEP as a model to get rid of nutria in the state.