Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project
Northeast Region


How Nutria Affect Us

Aerial view of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge showing marsh loss from 1939 (left) to 1989 (right).
Aerial photograph of Blackwater refuge in 1939. Aerial photograph of Blackwater refuge in 1989 showing significant marsh loss due to nutria.

In 2004, an economic study commissioned by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported that, without decisive action, more than 35,000 acres of Chesapeake Bay marshlands could be destroyed by nutria in 50 years (Southwick Associates - see link below). The predicted impact of nutria destruction to Maryland’s economy would be dire, with losses exceeding $35 million annually. Maryland watermen would be hardest hit, with lost productivity and lost jobs for this already economically embattled sector.

The Southwick Report illustrated the economic costs to the citizens of Maryland and the entire Chesapeake Bay in terms of dollars lost to commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, hunting, wildlife viewing, and related industries. Damage to the ecological services provided by healthy wetlands, such as storm protection, flood control, and water purification, would make the overall destruction even worse than the economic findings indicated. The report showed that it was imperative that Maryland address the situation before more marshland was permanently destroyed.

Cover image of the Southwick report. Links to the PDF file.
Last updated: March 4, 2016