California sets up hotline to report nutria sightings


March 15, 2018

In 2017, nutria were discovered to have reappeared in California — a pets thought to be eradicated in 1960. Breeding populations have recently taken hold in the San Joaquin Valley, just east of San Francisco, according to National Geographic.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife set up a hotline to track the invasive rodents. The hotline is part of a plan to eradicate destructive nutria from the state.

History and behavior

Nutria, also called coypu, can reach 3 ft. in length and weigh more than 20 pounds. They were fist introduced between 1899 and 1930 as part of the fur trade.

Nutria inhabit wetlands and feed primarily on marsh plants, which removes native species’ habitat, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The pests also can cause flooding problems due to damaging ditches and waterways with their burrows and paths they create in and out of the water.

“Nutria use their beaver-sized incisors and powerful forefeet to dig under the marsh surface to feed directly on the root mat, leaving the marsh pitted with holes and deep swim canals,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

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