Louisiana Gulf Coast Nutria

Johnny L Brewer

In the nineteen-thirties, nutria were imported to the United States from South America for the fur trade; by the end of the nineteen-forties, the rodents were turning up in the Louisiana wetlands. By the end of the nineteen-sixties, there was an estimated wild population of twenty million. This abundance of nutria provided many trappers a living until the fur trade collapsed in the late nineteen-eighties. With no money to be made off the pelts, the population grew out of control and began destroying the Louisiana wetlands.

Nutria reproduces very quickly. Left unchecked, the population can become out of control in an area. A litter is born every eight weeks, and the females can begin reproducing after twelve weeks.

            Nutria feed off the roots of plants in the Louisiana wetlands, killing them and making the land susceptible to erosion. These wetlands act as a cushion between the ocean and…

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