In a effort to protect natural and manmade resources, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has asked residents of the state to report sightings of an invasive rodent so that they might be captured. One solution offered to halt the proliferation of the destructive rodent is to eat them.
On Thursday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it is working to eradicate nutria from the state because, once established, the rodents could cause destruction to wetlands and damage to agricultural crops, levees, dikes and roadbeds.
More #nutria caught this week in Merced County, putting CA’s $45 billion agricultural economy at risk and threatening the state’s water infrastructure. CDFW employees are on the front lines trying to combat the invasive rodent. pic.twitter.com/ZHeORZDcAp
— Cal Fish & Wildlife (@CaliforniaDFW) February 16, 2018
The Verge reported that more than 20 nutria have been discovered in wetlands, rivers and canals in the counties of Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus. Some were pregnant females, and others were just babies — a clear sign that they’re multiplying.
In the 1970s, the state of California managed to eradicate nutria, which are native to South America and can grow to be 2.5 feet in length and weigh 20 pounds. Concerns over their reemergence stem from the fact that they are prolific reproducers. Within a year of reaching reproductive maturity, a female nutria can give birth to more than 200 offspring.
Nutria are found in 18 U.S. states, including Louisiana. The website of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries offers recipes featuring the meat of nutrias, including those for soups, salads and jambalaya. Nutria meat is considered to be healthier than turkey and reportedly tastes similar to wild rabbit. As a bonus, one nutria features four drumsticks.
According to Fox News, “Nutria were introduced to the U.S. in 1937 by an entrepreneur hoping to raise them for their fur. But some escaped from captivity and began to thrive in the Louisiana wetlands. By 1955, there were an estimated 20 million wild nutria in the state, devouring the grasses that kept coastal marshes from becoming free water. They were kept in check only by a flourishing trade in their pelts. But by the 1990s the fur market dried up, and the nutria multiplied.”