The nutria, an invasive rodent that weighs up to 20 pounds and was once thought to be eradicated from California, is making a comeback and posing a threat to agriculture in the state, according to FERN’s latest story with KQED’s The California Report. Lisa Morehouse and Angela Johnston report that a few of the rodents were first spotted last year in Merced, but are spreading.
“Now they’re multiplying,” the report says. “By this April, the state created a task force to fight them. Now, the rodents are on the move, heading north towards the San Joaquin Delta, California’s most important water source.”
The rodents, though, can be lured by sweet potatoes, which is why the state has enlisted one Central Valley family farm that grows the crop on 850 acres and supplies the largest retailers. “It would be devastating” if the rodents spread, farmer Stan Silva says. “They can basically ruin the ag industry here — they get in your fields, burrow into your canal ways, your waterways. They’re just a menace.”