SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – On Friday, President Trump signed into law a bill that authorizes legislation to eradicate and control the population growth of nutria, also known as “swamp rats,” in California’s Central Valley.

(Photo credit: YANN SCHREIBER/AFP/Getty Images)

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Nutria are an invasive species from South America that have caused millions of dollars in damage to swamplands in Maryland and Louisiana. They cause damage to canals and levees in the Central Valley, where they have been detected in large numbers and rapidly reproduce.

The bill, authored by Rep. Harder’s, would reauthorize the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003, which was considered successful in the Chesapeake Bay, and direct $7 million in funding towards the management of the species in California, according to a statement from Rep. Harder’s office.

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“Nutria continues to be a problem in my district and most of the San Joaquin Valley, making life more difficult for farmers,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Jim Costa. “California has taken steps to help control the issue, but we must keep pushing for federal funding to eradicate this pest once and for all.”

Nutria were originally introduced to the United States as part of the fur trade in the late 1800s but were eradicated from California in the 1970s. The invasive rat made a sudden reappearance in 2017. Over 1,600 have been taken from the wild since then. Nutria can devour up to 25 percent of their body weight daily and one female can lead to 200 offspring per year. These invaders threaten water infrastructure, certain crops, and indigenous wildlife.

Representatives John Garamendi and TJ Cox also co-sponsored the bill.

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