Nutria (Myocastor coypus) are a large, aquatic, invasive rodent, native to South America. They have been introduced to coastal wetlands of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina and are showing signs of continued expansion. This is of concern to natural resource managers because, as populations increase, nutria destroy coastal marsh vegetation through their feeding. These marshlands are critical for a number of ecosystem services such as filtering sediment and contaminants, and providing nursery grounds for a wide range of species. The health of coastal ecosystems and the economies that depend on them, is at increasing risk from nutria.
This site was designed to provide basic information on identifying nutria and recording their locations to guide management decision making. Our goal is to gather observations from the public in order to better-understand where populations are expanding and why.
In 2012, the a multi-agency steering committee was formed to investigate potential approaches to combat feral nutria populations in Virginia. This group attempted to update the known distribution of nutria and formulate strategic and operational strategies for future management and control of nutria. Early on, it became apparent that in order for this effort to be truly successful it must also include counterparts from North Carolina as well. This steering committee now includes representatives from, USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services in NC and VA, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech. This group is currently developing a draft strategic plan.
For additional information, please visit the nutria pages for our project partners below.