Valerie K. Cook; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; 1700 9th St., Sacramento, CA, 95811; (916) 654-4267; valerie.cook-fletcher@wildlife.ca.gov;
Following their eradication in the 1960s, a reproducing population of invasive nutria (Myocastor coypus) has once again been discovered in California. Native to South America, nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents, reaching up to 20 pounds in size and strongly resembling beavers and muskrats. In March 2017, a pregnant nutria was trapped in a private wetland in Merced County. Since that time, over 300 additional nutria have been confirmed in or taken from private and public wetlands, ponds, rivers, sloughs, and irrigational canals in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Tuolumne, Mariposa, and Fresno Counties. If allowed to persist, nutria will severely impact California's ecosystems and resources, causing loss of wetlands, soil erosion, increased sedimentation, damage to agricultural crops and levees, and reduced stability of banks, dikes, and roadbeds, as they have done in Louisiana, Delmarva Peninsula, and the Pacific Northwest. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and partner agencies have implemented eradication efforts to prevent significant environmental, agricultural, and economic impacts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta watershed. Components of the eradication campaign, including outreach, pursuing landowner permissions, survey and trapping efforts, utilization of an electronic data collection and mapping system, and future project phases, will be presented.
The Anthropocene: Pathogens & Invasive Species