Evangeline

Feb 4, 2014 8:27 PM by Akeam Ashford

State's Effort To Control Nutria Population

It's a well known fact here in Louisiana; the state pays $5.00 per tail to hunters who shoot and kill nutria.

According to Wildlife and Fisheries, nutria eat wetland grasses down to the roots, destroying vegetation and leaving sediment that washes away during storms.

Originally from Argentina, the animals were brought to the state during the fur trade in the 1930's.
In 1998, the state got federal funding to conduct a bounty program, paying hunters, like Shane Fontenot, per rodent. The only requirement is he has to keep the long tail. "I love the marsh. We hunt down there and fish down there. I'd sure hate to see it destroyed. We are already losing a lot from the way they changed the rivers and the waterways. I don't want to see anymore lost."

According to Wildlife & Fisheries, the animals are responsible for damaging an estimated 90,000 acres of coastal wetland back in 1999. Today, Biologist Ed Mouton says hunters have cut the damage down to a little over 4,000 acres.

"With the hunting up, we have reduced the number of damage. We are in year 12 right now, and the program has been very successful. We've had a lot of cooperation with the hunters and trappers, so we feel the controlled management of this wildlife has allowed us to protect the coastal wetlands in Louisiana," Mouton said.

Nutria can grow up to 20 pounds, reaching maturity in nine months. Female nutria can have four babies twice a year; causing the population to grow out of hand. For Fontenot, it's something he'll be doing for a long time.

"I don't think you'll ever be able to stop them totally. They're here, they have adapted too well. They have already set up camp," Fontenot said.

The program protects wetlands from Texas to Mississippi, just south of I-10.

More than 300,000 nutria were trapped just last year.

Hunters who want to participate can apply for a basic hunting and trapping license with Wildlife & Fisheries.

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