Nutria Numbers Continue to Dwindle in Blackwater Refuge - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Nutria Numbers Continue to Dwindle in Blackwater Refuge

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Cambridge, Md.- Efforts to remove the invasive rodents called Nutria from the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge have had great success, but the organization needs help from the community.

That's because there are so few Nutria left in the refuge that the Nutria Eradication Project is having a difficult time finding the remaining population.

Bill Wilmoth, the assistant director of the project said, "We often refer to the work as looking for a needle in a haystack.  Thing is, there's a lot of haystacks out there, a lot of wetlands to cover."

In the past year, the project has removed 63 of the Nutria from the park, however over the past eleven years, the project has removed almost 14,000 of the rodents.  As the numbers get lower and lower, Wilmoth says they need more people to call in reports for sightings of the animal.

"We need help from everybody.  Landowners, homeowners, who think they might have seen nutria in their marsh to give us a call and let us know what you've seen." said Wilmoth.

If you have seen a Nutria, the number to call is 877-463-6497.  The group will send a specialist to your area to look for signs of Nutria and then attempt to catch or track the animal.  The goal of the project is to remove the rodents, as they have done considerable damage to wetlands.

"Nutria's habits are such that they will eat all parts of the marsh plant that hold the soil together." Said Wilmoth, "So not only do they eat the leaves and shoots that come above the marsh, they will do a lot of digging and eat the roots and the tubers that hold the marsh together."

Nutria were brought to the peninsula in the 1940s as part of the fur trade.  When demand for the fur collapsed, many of the Nutria on ranches were either released or escaped and thrived in the marshes.  The animal is indigenous to South America.  More information on the species can be found here.

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