Nutria Eradication Will Require Sustained Efforts
One year after launching an Incident Command System to respond to the invasive pest, nutria eradication efforts continue to progress. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has been working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and so far, more than 400 nutria have been captured.
“Our strategy is that we’re concurrently monitoring and looking for the geographic distribution or the extent of the infestation, while at the same time we’re working hard to remove every animal that we can because they reproduce so quickly,” said CDFW Invasive Species Program Manager Martha Volkoff. “Thus far, we’ve either fully or partially assessed over 300,000 acres throughout the state and we’re working from the locations where we know nutria are which is primarily in the San Joaquin Valley and the southern part of the Delta.”
The majority of captures have been made in Merced County, however, because nutria is a semi-aquatic animal CDFW has identified approximately 1.8 million acres of suitable habitat. “They eat a large amount of vegetation which can result in the denuding of wetlands areas and riparian areas, and they also burrow into soil banks and so that can create instability in the surrounding soils…so we’re really at a risk both to agriculture and the environment from nutria,” Volkoff noted.
CDFW will remain diligent in nutria eradication activities, which could require a significant amount of time in order to be thorough in addressing all nutria in the state. “This is going to be a long, sustained effort. In order to be successful, it’s going to take several years of eradication, trapping efforts, and follow-up monitoring to confirm that all nutria have been removed,” Volkoff said. “Thus far we’ve gotten really an outpouring of support from the public and other agencies so I’m optimistic that we can be successful in this long-term effort.”
Landowners who suspect nutria may be occupying their land are encouraged to document possible sightings and report findings to the CDFW.