The nutria (Myocastor coypus), a large, semi-aquatic rodent native to South America, originally was brought to the United States for its fur. Nutria are approximately 2-feet long, with a large head, short legs and a stout body that appears hump-backed on land. Nutria are excellent swimmers, and valves in their nostrils and mouths seal out water when submerged to swim or feed.
Nutria damage is evident to varying degrees in every area they are found. Burrowing causes the most noticeable damage. Nutria burrows also can damage flood-control levees that protect
low-lying areas; weaken the foundations of reservoir dams, buildings, and roadbeds; and erode the banks of streams, lakes, and ditches. Nutria also causes a huge damage to agriculture sector. Crop damage is most prevalent in areas adjacent to aquatic habitats supporting nutria and especially when nutria are abundant. Crops primarily damaged by nutria are sugarcane and rice, but also include corn, milo (grain sorghum), sugar and table beets, alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, peanuts, and various melons and vegetables.
Nutria can be infected with several pathogens and parasites that can be transmitted to humans, livestock, and pets. They may also host a number of parasites, including the nematodes and blood flukes that cause “Nutria itch” or “Swimmer’s itch” (Strongyloides myopotami and Schistosoma mansoni), the protozoan responsible for giardiasis (Giardia lamblia), tapeworms (Taenia spp.), and common liver flukes (Fasciola hepatica). The threat of disease may be an important consideration in some situations, such as when livestock drink from water contaminated by nutria feces and urine.
Let us have a look at some evidences where rodent involvement proved to be catastrophic:
Louisiana Recruiting for Fight Against Nutria, Aka Coypu
Aug. 14, 2017, US News
Louisiana is recruiting coastal landowners, hunters and trappers for a program to fight the nutria — an invasive rodent that eats so much aquatic vegetation that it threatens swamps and marshes.
The state estimates that nutria denuded nearly 6,000 acres of fragile marshland this year in spite of a bounty program to control the fast-breeding animals.
A lot of private property isn’t registered, and the owners are missing a chance to protect their property and the coast, biologist Catherine Normand said Friday.
They were eating an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 acres (32,400 to 40,500 hectares) of marsh plants a year before the program began. Damage for the past five years is estimated at 4,600 to 6,500 acres (1,900 to 2,600 hectares) a year.
The estimated value of sugarcane and rice damaged by nutria each year has ranged from several thousand dollars to over a million dollars. If losses of other resources are added to this amount, the estimated average loss would probably exceed $1 million annually.
Concern over spread of rat-like coypu after Cork sightings
May 15, 2017, The Irish Times
Members of the public have been urged to report sightings of rat-like creatures, known as coypus, which the Service fear could cause extensive damage to river banks and other habitats.
The coypu is native to South America but has spread throughout North America and into Europe and has now arrived in Ireland with numerous sightings of the animal
Mr O’Keeffe (NPWS conservation ranger) said there have reportedly been sightings of coypus around the Curraheen River, on the River Lee, at the Atlantic Pond down the Marina, in Douglas, Mallow and Cobh as well as in Tipperary, Offaly and Dublin.
Mr O’Keeffe said that so far the NPWS has eradicated 11 animals mainly around the Curraheen River but the coypu which travels mainly by water ways has the potential to spread across the countryside as happened in East Anglia which necessitated a major eradication programme.
The conventional methods used to get rid of the pests include Zinc phosphide baits, traps etc. However these solutions are temporary and do not provide an effective solution against the pest nuisance. The use of conventional fumigants, rodenticides is no longer considered to be an effective solution to get rid of the rodent infestation as these rodents are becoming increasingly resistant to them. Also fumigation is a tedious, time consuming and an expensive method and is highly toxic. Exposure to such chemicals for a long time can cause damage to lungs, nervous system and even paralysis in severe cases. Therefore, we are in an urgent need of an infallible plan to combat the problem of increasing number of rodents. These rodents economically important furbearers when their pelts provide income to commercial trappers. Moreover these rodents are economically important furbearers when their pelts provide income to commercial trappers. Thus we need to look for is an answer which would help to solve the problem of coypu, while at the same time not harming the nutria anyway.
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