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California Allocates Money To Fight Off Swamp Rodents

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Sacramento, CA — State leaders say nutria are posing a major threat to California’s water supply and ecosystem.

It was believed that the swamp rodent had gone extinct in the 1970’s until one was discovered in a beaver trap in 2017. They have been primarily in the Central Valley, however, we reported in early 2018 that they have also been spotted in Tuolumne County, near Don Pedro.

The largest populations have been in Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus counties.

They weigh about 20 pounds and eat the equivalent of a quarter of their weight each day, burrowing into riverbanks, and feasting on plants and some endangered species. The big concern is that a female nutria can give birth to up to 200 offspring within a year, so once they start reproducing, it is hard to keep the species in check. Officials fear they could eventually move into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which could have a big impact on the overall health of the state’s water supply. In addition to damaging and destroying wetlands, they can degrade soil, ruin crops and carry pathogens that threaten livestock.

Over 700 nutria have been trapped and killed in the state over the past two years. In response, the state has now allocated $10-million so that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife can step up efforts to locate the unwanted rodents. It includes hiring around 45 additional staff and equipping sterilized nutria with radio collars so that they will lead state officials to where the animals are migrating.

There are also bills going before the US Congress that would give additional funding to combat nutria, as federal lawmakers have noted it is one of the issues that has support from both large agricultural groups and environmental organizations.

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