INVASION OF THE GIANT RATS
Giant rodents are about to take over New Jersey!
And even if the Garden State might not look any different, it has some officials worried about the ugly, 20-pound nutria which have made their way here from points south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The furry rodent is widely considered one of the most damaging creatures to marshland ecosystems – which, of course, would make New Jersey the critter’s spiritual home.
“I spotted it in Lower Alloway Township, Oct. 29,” state Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist Andrew Burnett told The Star-Ledger of Newark.
“The animal was swimming across Alloway Creek approximately 150 feet from my position.”
For decades, the nutria have slowly made their way up the Eastern Sseaboard. It was first recorded in large numbers in Delaware and Maryland in the 1980s
And now, the first has been spotted in Jersey.
“It’s a very large rodent,” said Leonard Douglen, executive director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association.
“As long as we don’t allow the population to grow, we can eradicate them no matter how big they are.”
The rodents – which measure as long as 24 inches from nose to tail – can kill an ecosystem by evicting current tenants like waterfowl, crabs and fish.
Douglen said that if the nutria invade New Jersey in large numbers, he and other pest-control warriors will have to take them out, one at a time.
“We’d probably trap them, wherever there are sightings. We’d have to set traps in those areas,” he told The Post last night.
“Just because a new species comes around doesn’t mean you reinvent the wheel.”
The nutria, as big as most dogs and resembling a beaver, has an average life span of about four years in the wild.
The South American rodent, with its fine fur, was once bred for their pelts in the late 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century.
As nutria farms popped up in the South and Gulf Coast regions, so did feral populations of the big, ugly rodents.
The most fierce battles against the nutria have been waged on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where state officials want to protect their precious Chesapeake Bay.
The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland has been ground zero of the war against the nutria, which has devoured about 7,000 acres of salt marsh in the past half-century.
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