September 24 2021 03:30 pm

House passes bill that would help California eradicate invasive swamp rat

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A congressman is fighting for a bill that would allocate millions of dollars to help California eradicate an invasive swamp rat.

Turlock Rep. Josh Harder used a stuffed prop to show what he and others say needs to be killed and killed now.

“This here is my good friend Nellie the nutria,” Harder said.

The nutria is a nonnative animal species from South America.

Looking like an overgrown rat with orange teeth, they were first reported in Central Valley, specifically Merced County and the delta a couple of years ago.

The concern is not just what they can do but also how fast they can reproduce. Nutria females can have 200 offspring in a year. Meaning unchecked, there could be a quarter of a million of them in just five years.

“They pose a threat for not only to the native wildlife in these wetlands areas but also the infrastructure of a lot of our water systems in California,” said Ken Paglia with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Paglia said the state has already eradicated around 900 nutrias.

“People in the area who know what they are looking for, they help us out. They let us know when they do spot nutria and then we can employ our team of scientists and go down there and assess what’s going on,” he told FOX40.

Harder’s bill would see 12 million federal dollars go toward states with big nutria problems like California and Louisiana.

“This is a tiny investment compared to what would be necessary if we wait any longer,” Harder said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says that it will soon start placing tracking devices on some nutria to get a better understanding of how they operate in the hopes it could lead to a more efficient way of eliminating them.

The bill passed the House Wednesday with unanimous support.

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