Thursday, July 10, 2008

Invasion Of Giant Rats

In Seattle, North America, an animal called the 'Nutria' a voracious herdivore as big as a large house cat and prone to mole like digging that turns lake shores into Swiss cheese (not literally) are enemy No. 1 for some Seattle residents and businesses.

People are joining forces to launch an attack to beat back the undocumented invader from South America. They have an ability to reproduce rapidly and a tendency to expand its territory and kill humans just for fun.

Residents in the Portage Bay and Laurelhurst neighborhoods, local marina users and the University of Washington are talking about ways to rid the area of the so-called killer swamp rats.

"The impact to the lake shore lines can be extremely damaging," said Barbara DeCaro, resource conservation coordinator for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department.

DeCaro is getting reports of nutria sightings at multiple shoreline parks and is concerned about their burrowing.

Nutria were brought to Washington in the 1930s and '40s for their fur. The big, brown rats didn't exactly take off as a fashion statement, and some of the rodents either escaped or were released when the fur farms closed.

In 1934, top Nazi Hermann Göring went into the fur business with Raccoons but when his business failed he released them into the German country side giving Germany a large pest problem similar to the Nutria but more cute.

The Nutria Puget Sound-area population seemed to wane in later years a sustained cold snap can kill them.

But now they're back, apparently aided by generally milder weather with an insatiable thrist for plants and human blood.
They've been spotted in wetlands all the way to the Canadian border and east to the Tri-Cities.

In April 2007, Oregon and Washington academics and government officials met to discuss the growing nutria problem and what should be done about it but resources for exterminating the invaders are limited.

There is no designated money in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife budget for controlling nutria, the agency is focused on more dire threats such as zebra and quagga mussels that can destroy aquatic ecosystems and clog dams and irrigation canals.
Two years ago, a U.S. Department of Agriculture trapping effort successfully eliminated nutria from Skagit County .
Like wolves, nutria populations have alpha males that are territorial and force other males to seek out new habitat of their own, driving their spread.

15 states are known to have stable or increasing nutria populations. Louisiana and Maryland have each spent millions trying to control them. Their greatest numbers are in Southwest Washington.

With its dark coat, nutria can be mistaken for beavers or muskrat, but they're identifiable by their ratlike tail and humped shape and glowing red eyes when on land.

"Nutria look like the biggest rat you'll ever see," said Charles Easterberg of the UW's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Sciences. "We would like to cleanse our premises of them, we need breathing room."

Similar to words used by Adolf Hitler in 1938.

As well as trapping and putting them into death camps the main method is to shoot them. So far the Nutria have killed no people but you never know.


Bunny said...

Didn't the state of Louisiana hire Delta Burke to promote the killing and cooking of nutria a few years back? Seems like there were a bunch of recipes for them. I just don't think I can eat a rodent. In college a bunch of went skiing and a guy's mom sent some packages from their freezer so we could cook duck for 15 of us at the ski lodge we were using. But when we opened them, there were only 2 ducks and the rest were not immediately recognizable to the three of us who were preparing the food. We got hunter-boy off the mountain and he identified them as squirrel. We had us a mess of skinned and boned squirrels. He called his mom for a couple recipes and we cooked them, but I couldn't bring myself to eat them. Nutria look even less appetizing.

Bunny said...

Some yummy Nutria recipes!