California ramps up efforts to combat invasive swamp rodents

LOS BANOS, Calif. (AP) — Invasive swamp rodents called nutria are setting off alarms in California, ever since one was spotted in the state two years ago.

Nutria’s feeding and burrowing habits threaten the state’s wetland ecosystems, agriculture and water infrastructure. Government agencies are scrambling to tackle the problem before it’s too late.

Now with $10 million in state funding, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing to deploy new tactics in its efforts to eradicate nutria and prevent environmental destruction.

The funding will allow the agency to hire 46 dedicated staff. It will also launch a program that will outfit surgically sterilized nutria with radio collars and send them into the wild. The animals are social, so the collared animals will lead the team to other nutria.

The agency also will start genetically testing the nutria in coming months to determine where they came from.

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Samantha Maldonado reported from San Francisco.

Categories: California News