We’ve covered the subject a few times before, but this story was too good to pass up… although it’s no laughing matter if you find the problem in your own backyard, or in your marsh, as the case may be.
The nutria—a large South American rodent, weighing up to 20 pounds—has long been on the loose in Louisiana, and now it’s expanding its territory. First brought to the US in the 1800s for the fur trade, the animals have spread and, having no natural predators here, have made themselves at home. Early on, residents in areas that had been taken over by another invasive species, the water hyacinth, were happy to see the nutria eating the rapidly growing plants. However, the nutria didn’t stop there; they also eat crops and decimate marshlands, exacerbating erosion problems.
Wildlife officials and trappers in Virginia and North Carolina are now banding together to plot how to get rid of the nutria. As the article reports, nutria eat plants at a tremendous rate—up to a quarter of their body weight per day. They tend to munch all the way down to the root, so many plants don’t grow back, and this practice is devastating vast areas of wetlands. Worse still, they can burrow through earthen berms and levees, weakening them and increasing flood risk or, in at least one case, breaking down the dikes between a series of wastewater retention ponds and the nearby river, releasing untreated water to the river. Some manufacturers have even designed geosynthetic fabric to prevent the rodents from making their way through levees—the same idea as materials that stop tree roots from spreading and damaging the structures, but in this case designed to resist gnawing teeth and burrowing claws.
The rodents have been in North Carolina for decades, but their population seems to be increasing and moving farther inland. In Louisiana there has been a bounty on nutria for about 10 years, and residents in North Carolina and Virginia can now kill them as well—or, if they prefer, can just report sightings via a website. Maryland has successfully limited them in parts of the state, and wildlife biologists in these two states are hopeful that they can do the same.
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
March 22nd, 2012
5 Proven Social Media Tactics to Engage Your Audience
Extend your outreach and campaign effectiveness with social media. Join Erica Hooper, Strategic Director at S. Groner Associates, to explore social media's (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) opportunities, myths, and real-world tested and proven social media tactics designed to engage your audience. Read more…
April 5th, 2012
for Surface Water Quality
Constantly influenced by natural eutrophication, direct human impact, and a changing climate, surface water is a scarce natural resource needing effective protection. Join Shahram (Shane) Missaghi to explore the function and benefits of BMPs in protecting surface water, and examine three key criteria to insure their successful implementation: water, soil, and climate Read more...
April 12th, 2012
Water Auditing 101
Reduce your water waste and cost! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC to explore the key attributes, uses, and efficiency/cost opportunities of water audits. Aichele will lead a discussion of what a water audit includes, who performs the audit, where and when they should and can be performed, and the opportunities that exist in performing a water audit. Join us and gain an understanding of the potential savings possible, rebates available, and how quickly this unobtrusive work can be implemented from audit to installation to optimize your water use and minimize your cost. Read more...
April 18th, - May 25th, 2012
Sediment and Erosion Control
Master Class Series
Join industry expert and bestselling author Jerald S. Fifield, Ph.D., CISEC, CPESC and Tina R. Evans, PE, CISEC for a comprehensive 6-part online master class and workshop series (0.9 CEUs / 9 PDHs) exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review based on Fifield’s recently released 3rd edition of the bestselling manual Designing and Reviewing Effective Sediment and Erosion Control Plans (included in your Master Class Series package).