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Nutria madness

March 20, 2012

At last, the invasive nutria speaks up for itself–in the NYT no less.

Nutria are well-known pests in the southern USA, reportedly reducing wetlands to mudflats. Scientists have found chemical attractants to control them, and big game hunters are after the cute little menace. There are even recipes to eat them.

Are these all good ways to control and invasive species like the human nutria?

P. S. I’m back from invading Cuba, but the whole series with photos are now linked at the Cuba Visit page.

  1. Heteromeles permalink
    March 20, 2012 9:39 pm

    How about using small game hunters too?

    As for humans being invasive, I figure that some humans have been in the US since the last Ice Age, which pretty much makes them native as far as the native ecosystems are concerned, and much more native than the horses, camels, and elephants that were here before 10000 BCE. Reintroducing horses and camels from Eurasia hasn’t worked out so well.

    Thing is, there are also a bunch of non-native genotypes of humans in North America, of which I’m one. The only good news is that humans have two modes of inheritance, genes and culture, and we can theoretically adapt our culture fast enough to get a little smarter about moving things around. Maybe.

    • March 20, 2012 9:52 pm

      There is an interesting article in Nature about why humans are the only animal whose cultural advances multiply over the generations. But I’m not sure how “good” that is for the environment. Most cultural advance leads to deeper exploitation of the environment. For instance, the new technology of fracking.

      • paws4thot permalink
        March 22, 2012 4:54 am

        They were both minor (Richter 2 or so) but fracking has been proven to be the cause of 2 earthquakes in the Irish Sea / Lancashire, England. I’m not saying that this is hugely important except:-
        “A View to a Kill” anyone? 😉

        • March 22, 2012 10:44 am

          Yes, earthquakes also in Ohio. It’s a huge controversy here–but people are so desperate for jobs they believe the lies.

  2. Frank Caesar Branchini permalink
    March 20, 2012 11:56 pm

    Nutria were introduced into the environment in Maryland by humans as part of the fur trade. They were brought in by the fur industry for fur famrs and it was through the irresponsibility of the fur industry they were released. Fur farming of nutria has not been profitable and it is possible that some nutria were intentionally released by people who were raising them for fur and found they were losing money. And now that they are causing environmental issues the only thing humans can think of are cruel ways of disposing them. It seems inevitable that when wildlife is exploited for economic gains the end result is cruelty to animals. Whatever the nutria are doing to the environment in Maryland, it happened because irresponsible humans were exploiting wildlife.

  3. paws4thot permalink
    March 21, 2012 5:14 am


    Introducing species into environments where they are not naturally predated tends to pretty much always be a bad idea for one or both of the new habitat and pre-existing native species. I live in an area where this has happened so know whereof I speak from a practical viewpoint.

  4. Frank Caesar Branchini permalink
    March 21, 2012 5:12 pm

    I ran two things together in my earlier post, While nutria were introduced into North America for fur ranching, in Maryland they appear to have been introduced so trappers could trap them and sell the fur.

  5. March 21, 2012 8:27 pm

    Welcome home, Joan!
    Judging from your blog, you must have enjoyed it greatly.
    I checked out your photos–my favs: Strangler Fig, Anolis Lizard, and the Red Pontiac!

    I forget which novelist mentioned Havana’s penchant for using ancient automobiles, classics that would be sold at auction in the US are the norm for everyday travel–there was also mention of the incredible mechanics produced by a cut-off society that has tried to recycle its cars for half a century..

    • March 22, 2012 9:14 am

      Thanks, Chris. Actually the majority of cars on the street were box-like, Soviet-made tin cans. I slammed a door too hard, misjudging its weight. The driver cried out in pain. ): First time I’ve felt like an over-muscled American.

      • paws4thot permalink
        March 23, 2012 5:09 am

        I’d heard that in the 1990s Cubans were happily swapping $1950s_American_car for $New_Soviet_Box (actually a 1970s Fiat made with thicker steel). The American car was then repatriated and sold for several times what the Soviet box was worth!

  6. March 22, 2012 9:16 am

    In a few years, I think Florida’s pythons will take care of those nutrias.
    Hope they cull the deer, too.

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