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 in the last year in spite of a bounty program to control the fast-breeding animals. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is encouraging registration in the program.
In the video below, Team Wild’s Ian Harford is powering through the swamps of Louisiana in search of monster rats. The Nutria, also known as Coypu, are causing huge problems along the Mississippi, undermining banks and eating young plants. The rodents have a $5 bounty on their heads and Ian’s guide wants to make a few bucks on this fast and furious hunting trip.
Nutria are aquatic rodents related to guinea pigs, and known in most of the world as coypu. They have orange buck teeth, webbed feet and long naked-looking tails, and weigh an average of 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms). 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 program has removed nearly 5 million nutria over the past 15 years. The incentive is a $5 payment for each nutria killed. Landowners who want to collect the bounty can hunt or trap the rodents themselves. The department can connect others with interested hunters and trappers.