USDA. APHIS. Wildlife Services.
The nutria (Myocastor coypus), a large, semi-aquatic rodent native to South America, was originally brought to the United States in 1889 for its fur. When the nutria fur market collapsed in the 1940s, thousands of nutria escaped or were released into the wild by ranchers who could no longer afford to feed and house them. While nutria devour weeds and overabundant vegetation, they also destroy native aquatic vegetation, crops, and wetland areas. Recognized in the United States as an invasive wildlife species, nutria have been found in at least 20 States and most recently in California. The nutria’s relatively high reproductive rate, combined with a lack of population controls, helped the species to spread.
Maryland’s eastern shore has seen thousands of acres of protective marshland impacted by the nutria's destructive feeding habits. To protect the valuable resources of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project (CBNEP) began in 2002 to permanently remove invasive nutria from the marshes of the Delmarva Peninsula and to protect, enhance, and restore the aquatic and river ecosystems they damaged.
Distribution / Maps / Survey Status
The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Nutria.
Council or Task Force
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Galveston Bay Estuary Program; Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC).
Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Marine Invasions Research Lab.
State and Local Government
California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife and Heritage Service.
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
Maryland Sea Grant.
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Myocastor coypus. [Accessed Sep 10, 2014].
- Jojola, S., G. Witmer, and D. Nolte. 2005. Nutria: an invasive rodent pest or valued resource? In: D.L. Nolte and K.A. Fagerstone (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Wildlife Damage Management Conference (Paper 110). Fort Collins, Colo.: National Wildlife Research Center.