California Members of U.S. House Introduce Legislation to Eradicate/Control Invasive Species Nutria

Would Provide California $7 Million Annually Through FY 2024

Nutria sighted just south of the
Stockton, CA Port.

U.S. Representatives Josh Harder, John Garamendi, Jim Costa, and TJ Cox have introduced H.R. 3399, the reauthorization of the Nutria Eradication and Control Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to address the rising detections of the invasive species, nutria in California’s Central Valley. Nutria (Myocastor coypus) is a large, semi-aquatic rodent native to South America that burrows into levees, destroys wetlands, damages agricultural crops and can reproduce rapidly.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works jointly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to eradicate and control populations of nutria. The first detection in California occurred in Merced County in March 2017. A female nutria pregnant with seven young was captured in a private wetland southeast of Gustine. To date there have been 531 nutrias removed from the Central Valley.

In 2018 the Delta Conservancy awarded the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) $1.2 million over three years. In addition to grants from the Wildlife Conservation Board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program this enabled eradication efforts to move forward. The California Department of Food and Agriculture also received an additional grant of $800,000 for a two‐year delimitation project.

In May 2019 CDFW was awarded $8.5 million in funding over three years by the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy to expand its nutria eradication operations. The funding was awarded in a competitive process as part of the Delta Conservancy’s Proposition 1 Ecosystem Restoration and Water Quality Grant Program. It is estimated California will need nearly $5.5 million annually for an effective eradication program.

The Nutria Eradication and Control Act was first enacted by Congress in 2003. Then-Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) introduced the legislation because of nutria detections in the Chesapeake Bay. Nutria populations were also uncontrolled in Louisiana. The legislation provided a total of $6 million, $4 million for eradication efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and $2 million for a control program in Louisiana. To date, nutria is considered eradicated from the Chesapeake Bay. Louisiana maintains a population control program.

The introduced legislation would add California to the list of eligible states to receive federal funding for eradication and control efforts. It includes authorization of $7 million annually for California, subject to appropriations, beginning in FY 2020.

Click here to read H.R. 3399.

Tim Cansler