MODESTO (CBS13) – Giant river rodents are damaging water projects and infrastructure in the San Joaquin Delta, officials say.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife is now asking for nearly $2 million to track and kill the rodents, known as nutria or coypu.
Native to South America, nutria first showed up in Merced County in 2017 before making their way north. The creatures look a lot like a large rat, but they are more closely related to guinea pigs.
It is not clear how they got into the state.
Being a semi-aquatic rodent, nutria are now being found in wetlands, rivers canals and other freshwater habitats in Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus counties, according to the CDFW.
Along with damaging habitat and infrastructure, officials are also concerned about degraded water quality as a result of nutria infestations.