Destructive rodent spotted in Fresno County and three other counties
UPDATE: Friday, February 16, 2018 - Merced County reported four nutria were found this week.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - A water-loving rodent that was eradicated in the 70's is trying to make a comeback in California. The nutria is a big and ugly rodent that makes its home in canals and sloughs.
Back in December, a farmer shot a nutria, not far from Firebaugh. Tuesday Fox 26 got a look at the nutria that was retrieved by the Fresno County Ag Commissioner's office.
Its' body is being stored in the freezer so State Fish and Wildlife can do testing.
Fred Rinder is deputy agriculture commissioner in Fresno County. "They need to determine if it is male or female. If it's a female they'll want to know has it mated before."
Nutria is a lot like rabbits when it comes to reproducing. It can have up to three litters per year. If this frozen rodent is a female and did mate, that will give scientists a better idea whether there's a nutria population in Fresno County.
There have been other nutria sightings in Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced counties. The animal loves water. "It can really do damage to levees and water canal systems. As poor shape as our levees are in, we don't need this thing digging in it,
weakening it. The Nutria is from South America and came to California in 1899 for the fur trade. After creating problems statewide it was deemed eradicated in 1978. Somehow it's on the comeback trail and it thrives in canals and wetlands."What it likes to feed on is the root system of cattails. So it will dig all that up and just lay down and eat the roots." The Fresno County Ag Commissioner's office has been meeting with water districts and farmers. The message is, if you spot one of these big tooth rodents, call the office immediately. Six federal, state and county agencies are planning to meet next month. The mission is to keep the nutria from getting a foothold in California again.