Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Nutria Eradication and Control Pilot Program

(P.L. 105-322)

This law authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance to the State of Maryland for a pilot program to develop measures to eradicate or control nutria and restore marshland damaged by nutria. This financial assistance is subject to the availability of appropriations.

The pilot program shall develop methods to (1) eradicate nutria in Maryland; (2) eradicate or control nutria in other States; and (3) develop methods to restore marshland damaged by nutria. The Secretary shall require that the pilot program consist of management, research, and public education activities carried out in accordance with the document entitled, "Marsh Restoration: Nutria Control in Maryland Pilot Program Proposal", July 10, 1998.

Nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents that are native to South America. Nutria, which can weigh up to 20 pounds, live along the banks of lakes, marshes, ponds and rivers. These rodents forage directly on marsh vegetation causing wetland loss and erosion along streams and river banks. There are no natural predators to control nutria, there is no market for their fur, and private trappers have failed to keep pace with the animals' ability to reproduce.

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