What is a Nutria?
If you have never seen a nutria, they basically look like big rats. Nutria are large rodents that look like beavers with long, thin tales and weigh up to 20 lbs. They have dense, grayish underfur overlaid by long glossy guard hairs that vary in color from dark brown to yellowish brown with large, orangey front teeth that jut out. Nutria inhabit fresh and brackish marches, rivers, bayous, canals, swamps and various other types of wetlands. They are found throughout the United States wetlands today, but they are native to South America. Nutria were imported to the US between 1899 and 1930 in an attempt to establish a fur farm industry. When the fur farms failed in the late 1940s, many nutria were released into the wild. Ever since then, the Nutria Damage To Wetlands has been increases by acres each year.
What do Nutria Eat?
Nutria feed almost entirely on Marsh vegetation that extends above the waterline and consume about 25% of their body weight daily. They will eat crops, lawn grasses, olney three square, salt-marsh hay, smooth cordgrass, and ornamentals adjacent to aquatic habitats. Nutria use their beaver-sized incisors and powerful forefeet to dig under the marsh surface to feed directly on the root mat. This leaves the marsh pitted with holes and deep swim canals. Areas devoid of vegetation are called “eat outs” and the swim canals are called “runs.”
The Nutria are literally killing the wetlands by eating them from their roots. In Louisiana alone, with a population over 5 million, they are contributing to the rate of soil erosion at about 40 square miles a year. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) conducted the first Louisiana coast-wide survey revealing over 105,000 acre damage and growing. In addition, nutria are extremely prolific and can start reproducing at 6 months of age with a gestation period of 130 days with litters of 4 to 5 baby nutrias.
What are we doing to combat Nutria wetland damage?
Louisiana and other US coastal states are developing plans to save the wetlands not only from nutria but all coastal erosion. Click here for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority 2017 Master Plan. But, working in these wet environments is not easy. In order to be able to dredge and build in the swamp and marsh lands, construction crews need specialized amphibious equipment. At Wilco Marsh Buggies & Draglines and Wilco Manufacturing, they develop and design unique equipment that is able to function effectively in these wet, unstable environments. Wilco Manufacturing actually designs and manufactures amphibious equipment. “The design of the Wilco amphibious equipment has proven its reliability in many applications world wide. Our equipment has been used in pipeline construction, land reclamation & development, dredging, environmental clean up, levee & wet lands reclamation, power line construction, storage pit maintenance and any other work requiring amphibious equipment. ” Wilco Marsh Buggies and Draglines offers amphibious equipment for rent, lease and contracting. Both of these companies offer solutions to working in these harsh environments.
In addition to repairing the damaged and consumed wetlands, many states are also offering rewards for nutria. Some of the bounty rewards are up to $5 per tail. Click here for more details. Nutria meat is actually considered an exotic delicacy and is also healthier than turkey. Raw Nutria meat has more protein per serving than ground beef and is much lower in fat than farm-raised catfish. Plus, there are a lot of great recipes that make nutria a fabulous dish.