STOCKTON (CBS13) — It’s larger than a muskrat and smaller than a beaver, but has an appetite for destruction.
The nutria is an animal keeping Fish and Wildlife officials busy. Several of these rodents have been spotted and captured in Kern, Merced, and Stanislaus counties.
The nutria has caused state officials to create a multi-agency task force which is already working on a plan to eradicate the rodents, much like they did more than 40 years ago.
The 20-pound rodent is causing a lot of concern in San Joaquin County. The nutria loves to swim in water and spends a lot of time, eating.
“We hear they are coming in this direction and a couple of them have been found here at the delta to keep our eye out for them,” said Jason Rouzer, who is part of the River Point Landing Marina.
Rouzer works around 13 acres of water every day. So far he’s only seeing beavers and muskrats.
“If they are anything like the beaver they can mess up the levees; if these levees break, we’re in for a big shock,” he said.
Bruce Blodgett is the executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau. His office has been fielding calls about the potential threat ever since the nutria was spotted in neighboring counties.
“This is not something that you want getting established into your environment, because it will damage the environment, it will damage farming and our water systems, permanently,” he said.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has spotted more than 20 nutrias in Kern, Merced, and Stanislaus counties. Back in April, San Joaquin County officials found two in the delta. One was already dead.
“They will get into these family groups if you will, and all of a sudden the younger males will start getting kicked out and the younger females will start moving out and they will move 25 miles away, and the next group will move 25 miles away from that,” he said.
The nutria can travel a couple of miles every night. Fish and wildlife officials say they have already set out traps and cameras to monitor any activity of the nutria in the delta. So, far things are quiet.
“We’re hoping we’re early enough in this so we can get on top of it,” said Blodgett.
Fish and wildlife officials are set to meet with the San Joaquin Farm Bureau on Wednesday to continue talks in how to deal with the nutria if more are spotted in the delta.