California Representative Josh Harder is staying on message about the threat the invasive species nutria poses to the state and the country.
The Central Valley congressman introduced a bill in June to revive legislation that helped eradicate a similar nutria infestation in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay a decade ago.
Harder underscored the need for the state to act quickly during the recent House Ag Committee hearing on Safeguarding American Agriculture from Wild, Invasive, and Non-Native Species.
Harder:”All you need to know is this is a giant swamp rat which can destroy vitally important parts of our agriculture like crops including almond trees, irrigation canals, they can even cause flooding by burrowing into water control systems and threatening our water infrastructure. If we don’t take action now there could be 250, 000 nutria just in California in five years. One female can lead to 200 offspring in a year, 200. That’s why I’ve introduced a bill that invests 7 million dollars now to help our community and our country get ahead of this issue before it’s too late.”
Harder says that by the time the public is aware of the nutria infestation, by the time it’s being spotted on farms it will be too late for eradication. Then there’s only local management. Harder says the nutria problem is now at the point where wild hogs were in the 1980’s, only found in a handful of states. Today wild hogs are in 35 states and cost 2.5 billion dollars damage each year. He says his goal is to not let the nutria issue grow to be as destructive as feral hogs.
Cal Department of Fish and Wildlife says Nutria can consume up to 25% of their body weight in above and below ground vegetation daily, but they can destroy up to 10 times as much, damaging native plants, soil structure, as well as significant losses to nearby agricultural crops.