Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Nutria


Nutria are large rodents that look like beavers with long, thin tails. They are one of the world's worst invasive species and they possibly exist in New Jersey.

They weigh 12 to 20 pounds. They are primarily nocturnal (active at night), with peak activity occurring near midnight.

Although they are native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, they have invaded North America, particularly in the southern U.S. They have been seen and trapped in New Jersey in places like Salem County's Lower Alloways Creek Township.

The problem with them, as with most invasive and non-native species, is that they eat vegetation that causes our native animals and fish to lose their habitats.

This large furbearing rodent (Myocastor coypus) was first introduced  to the United States  in 1899 in California. Between then and 1940,  ranches were established in many states to breed them. A crash in the market for their fur occurred after WWII and ranchers unfortunately released their nutria or did nothing to recapture those that escaped. They once existed in 30 states and still exist in about 18. Nutrias can tolerate winters in temperate areas only, but the milder NJ winters have allowed them to stay and breed and they were trapped in the salt marshes of the Delaware Bay back in the early 1980s.

The New Jersey Division of Fish  and Wildlife would rather not get any reports of nutria and as far as I can find few valid reports of nutria have occurred recently by trappers via the annual trapper harvest survey.

You can report spotting a nutria (or fisher or bobcat) using the form at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/bobcat-fisher-nutria_sighting.pdf

In New Jersey, a Trapper Education course must be passed and a trapping license obtained to trap in the state - see http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/trapping_info.htm

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