We Have Nutria On The Run!
APHIS Uses Detection Dogs for Nutria Eradication
This summer, Keeva and Rex, along with their two handlers, a wildlife biologist and a wildlife specialist from USDA’s Wildlife Services program, completed five weeks of rigorous training to detect nutria scat and build handler skills. They also completed four weeks of application training in Maryland, and have now been certified to search, locate, and respond via a bark to nutria scat (feces).
Nutria are semi-aquatic rodents, similar to muskrats. Devouring up to 25 percent of their body weight in plants and roots per day, they have devastated Chesapeake Bay wetlands, turning them into barren mud flats. The spoiled marshes offer no protection to fish, shellfish, birds or other wildlife. Nutria activity accelerates erosion that smothers oyster beds and degrades Chesapeake Bay water quality. Lost wetlands increase tidal and storm flooding and subsequent damage to upland timber and agricultural areas.
Mark’s Rant: According to the US FWS, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge has lost almost half of its wetlands since the introduction of nutria (swamp rats). A combined team of agencies and hunters have made serious headway of killing off this highly invasive species, and its now time to bring in the dogs!