Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Chesapeake Bay Field Office Confirms Nutria Population in Delaware
Northeast Region, January 19, 2012
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Nutria - Photo Credit: Steve Kendrot, USDA
If nutria are removed quickly and completely, damaged marshes can be restored to a healthy state
If nutria are removed quickly and completely, damaged marshes can be restored to a healthy state - Photo Credit: Steve Kendrot, USDA

Following up on recent leads from a fur buyer, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the presence of an invasive nutria population on a pond near the town of Marydel, Delaware. The destructive feeding habits of the nonnative rodent have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of acres of marsh to erosion throughout the Chesapeake Bay.


A landowner adjacent to the Marydel pond reported that a family member observed several nutria over the past three years, but did not know what the strange creature was. The fur buyer recognized the pelt as nutria and reported this to a USFWS biologist. USDA staff obtained permission from the landowners surrounding the pond to conduct a thorough inspection and found nutria signs throughout the pond, including droppings and damage to shoreline vegetation.

The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project (CBNEP) seeks to eradicate the invasive nutria from the Delmarva Peninsula. A partnership of more than two dozen federal and state agencies, institutions and landowners The CBNEP has been successful in eliminating nutria from heavily infested portions of the Blackwater, Transquaking, Chicamicomico, Nanticoke and Choptank Rivers as well as Fishing Bay, Deal Island, and Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Areas.

The team is now turning its attention towards finding nutria that may have migrated into the headwaters of these rivers as well as other watersheds on the Delmarva Peninsula. The recent discovery in Marydel is the first confirmed population in Delaware since the team began operations in 2002.

Several Chesapeake Bay rivers originate in Delaware. Although most of the nutria have been removed from the main stems of these rivers, finding isolated populations in the headwaters is the key to making sure the nutria don’t reinvade.

Residents of Maryland and Delaware can report nutria sightings to the Nuisance Wildlife Hotline at 1-877-463-6497.

For more information contact:
Dan Murphy

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