Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Group Aims to Rid the Delmarva Peninsula of Damaging Nutria
Northeast Region, October 19, 2011
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Nutria in Maryland wetland
Nutria in Maryland wetland - Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Willife Service

The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project met on October 19, 2011 in Cambridge, Maryland to finalize their plan to eradicate nutria from the Delmarva Peninsula by December 2015 and brief the media about the plan.


Often described as an eating machine, the nutria is a semi-aquatic rodent introduced to this county from South America in the 1940's. Devouring up to 25 percent of its body weight in plants and roots per day, nutria have devastated wetlands in Maryland, Louisiana and other coastal states, turning them into barren mud flats. In Maryland alone, the cost to the state’s economy due to loss of wetlands in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was estimated at $4 million dollars annually.

Foraging by nutria damages or destroys the root mat that binds marshes together. When this network is compromised, marshes are quickly reduced to mudflats prone to erosion. This influences the Chesapeake Bay and other wildlife, which need healthy marshes to trap sediment and contaminants, and for nursery grounds for fish, crabs and other aquatic life.

The project has eliminated all of the major concentrations of nutria, leaving isolated small populations that can be harder to control. The next step will focus on removing low-density populations on the Delmarva Peninsula’s remaining 350,000 acres of potential nutria habitat.

After this is accomplished, areas will be monitored vigilantly for 2 to 3 years before eradication can be proclaimed.

For more information contact:
Dan Murphy
Chesapeake Bay Field Office

Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project
Contact Info: Kathryn Reshetiloff, 410-573-4582, kathryn_reshetiloff@fws.gov
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