The nutria is a 20-lb., 2-foot long swamp rat with long bright orange front teeth. It's originally from South America and was introduced into Maryland in 1943. It's known for its fur and has since been blamed for completely wiping out swathes of wetland by digging out the roots of the plants that hold the soil in place and converting marsh into mudflat.
Maryland has been trying to wipe out the rodent for the past ten years using GPS tracking and good old fashioned traps.
"It's one of those rare success stories that we find in invasive species where by concentrating a lot of effort and learning a lot about the biology of the species we've been able to knock it back to a small fraction of its initial population," says Jonathan McKnight, with Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
McKnight thinks the rodents could be eradicated in Maryland within 5 to 7 years. The legislation would authorize funding over five years for eradication efforts in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Oregon, North Carolina, and Washington.
The bill was reintroduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)