Wednesday July 20, 2022

The Sacramento Bee

California may be winning its five-year, $13 million battle with nutria — the 20-pound, orange-toothed swamp rodents that biologists once feared would play hell with wetlands, flood-control levees and the state’s water-delivery system.

“We do absolutely feel like everything is trending in the right direction,” said Valerie Cook, who runs the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s nutria eradication program.

Cook said her team is seeing nutria numbers declining, and they’ve managed to keep them out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California’s most important waterway.

Scientists who deal with invasive pests were first alarmed when nutria — a beagle-sized rodent native to the wetlands of South America — were spotted in a private duck-hunting marsh in the spring of 2017 near the farming community of Gustine in Merced County.

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