SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - California is one step closer to being able to apply for millions of dollars in its fight against nutria, giant swamp rodents.
In 2003, Congress passed The Nutria Eradication and Control Act, which established a fund to help Maryland and Louisiana battle the animals. Recently, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation that now allows California to also receive support. The bill now heads to the Senate.
"This is a huge win for farmers and environmentalists in the Valley," said Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA 10th District). "Both groups are concerned about the swamp rat invasion and rightly so - if we don't get these things under control in the next couple years, they will overrun our farms and wetlands."
The bill also increases the total amount allocated to programs through the Fish and Wildlife Service which help states and local residents combat invasive species.
Harder says more than 1,500 of the animals have been since 2018, with over over 500 since May.
Nutria were originally introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s as part of the fur trade. They were eradicated from California in the 1970s but reappeared in 2017. Nutria can eat up to 25 percent of their body weight daily and one female can lead to 200 offspring per year.
Harder says nutria threaten water infrastructure, crops, and indigenous wildlife.
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