Dangerously destructive species spotted in Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. -- Wildlife authorities say they haven't dealt with nutria since the 70's. The animal is commonly seen in parts of the East Coast like Maryland, Washington and farther south in Louisiana.

Experts are working with those states to come up with a plan to remove nutria before they cause millions of dollars worth of damage.

The destructive species has been found in the Central Valley, and now state wildlife experts are trying to get rid of them fast!

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have spotted at least 20 giant rodents called nutria in four separate counties, including Fresno and Merced.

Peter Tria of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said, "We haven't dealt with them in many generations, we don't have experience dealing with them anymore, we're still learning on how to trap and catch them.

Nutria look similar to muskrats and beavers which makes it difficult for experts to identify. They not only transmit diseases to people and animals, but they can also cause millions of dollars worth of destruction if not removed.

"They burrow tunnels and holes in levees and all the different things we use for water control, including water supply, water ag, or water for flood control," Tria said.

Another problem is that these rodents breed quickly, state wildlife authorities are working with several different departments, including county offices, to come up with a way to get rid of the pests.

Experts say some were found at the San Luis Wildlife Refuge. They don't know how the animals got to Central Valley but suspect that someone illegally introduced them to the area.

Wildlife authorities say they first found a pregnant nutria in March of last year, since then, the animals have also been spotted in Stanislaus and Tuolumne County.

They ask if you do spot nutria, to call them, or report it on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
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