Dangerously destructive rodent species called nutria spotted in parts of California

EMBED </>More Videos

A destructive pest that is commonly seen in parts of the East Coast and farther south has been spotted in Northern California. (KABC)

A destructive pest that is commonly seen in parts of the East Coast and farther south has been spotted in Northern California.

Experts are working with states such as Maryland and Louisiana to come up with a plan to remove the species nutria before they cause millions in damages.

A colony of nutrias was discovered in Stanislaus County, and even in parts of central California. It prompted an emergency alert to go out.

California had a population of nutrias in the past, but they were thought to have been eradicated in the 1970s.

Nutria look similar to muskrats and beavers which makes it difficult for experts to identify. They not only transmit diseases to people and animals, but they can also cause millions of dollars worth of destruction if not removed.

The animals can grow to be more than 2 feet long, and that's not counting its foot-long tail. A full grown adult will tip the scale at more than 20 pounds.

"They burrow tunnels and holes in levees and all the different things we use for water control, including water supply, water ag, or water for flood control," said Peter Tria, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Because of their large teeth and burrowing abilities, a colony of nutrias can demolish entire wetland and marsh eco-systems in a short amount of time.

Another problem is that these rodents breed quickly, state wildlife authorities are working with several different departments, including county offices, to come up with a way to get rid of the pests. An adult female can give birth to more than 200 baby nutrias in just one year.

Wildlife authorities said they first found a pregnant nutria in March of last year, since then, the animals have also been spotted in Stanislaus and Tuolumne County.

They ask if you do spot nutria, to call them, or report it on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

ABC7 sister station KFSN-TV contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
pets-animalswild animalspestsanimal newsCalifornia
(Copyright ©2018 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)