California’s effort to eradicate the growing nutria population is receiving significant financial support from multiple areas. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has been working on addressing the invasive species since it was discovered back in 2017 after initially having been eradicated 40 years ago. CDFW has indicated that the nutria program has confirmed over 600 rodents have been killed since first being discovered.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy recently awarded CDFW a three-year grant of $8.5 million, with funds that were made available through the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The grant comes after an earlier award of $1.2 million to address the nutria population. Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget that was recently approved also provides nearly $2 million for the nutria program, with an additional allocation of $1.6 million for future eradication activities.
The funding assistance will support the hiring of additional CDFW staff to focus on the nutria issue. The agency will be deploying sterilized “Judas” nutria equipped with GPS collars to help find other populations. The additional funding will also be used to deploy detection dog teams, as well as increasing trap deployments and enhancing monitoring efforts. CDFW officials have identified nearly 2 million acres of suitable habitat in California.
There are also efforts on a national level to help address California’s nutria population. Back in June, Representative Josh Harder introduced a bill in Congress to reauthorize the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 to direct $7 million in funding to be used for California’s nutria eradication program. The bill was co-sponsored by three other Central Valley representatives, Jim Costa, John Garamendi, and TJ Cox.
The semi-aquatic rodent was originally discovered in Merced County but has since been found in Stanislaus, Tuolumne, San Joaquin, and Fresno counties. Nutria are prolific eaters and reproduce rapidly, posing a threat to California’s marshes and wetlands, as well as agricultural infrastructure.