Though my neighbors tell me that nutrias cause trouble and aren’t worth having around our lakes, I’ve still enjoyed seeing them from time to time while taking my dogs for walks along the water. I’m told that there used to be quite a large population of the critters here, but I’ve only seen three since I moved in.
Nutrias (singular: nutria) are native to South America and were imported into North America as an alternative to mink fur. (See Nutria — Exotic Aquatics on the Move for more information.)
While doing some work on the computer this morning, I heard a minor scuffle next door followed by a mid-pitched, frustrated howling sound. My dogs went berserk, running up and down the stairs trying to get the best view from different windows, and eventually trying to get outside to see what was happening. I took a glance out the window, saw the critter control truck, and raced down the stairs. In a flash, I was out the door and by the employee’s side.
In his trap was the largest of the three nutrias I have recently seen by the water.
The poor animal was in obvious distress, though was no longer complaining vocally; the worst part was seeing the milky discharge from his nose. The control guy said the animal appeared diseased, and when my next-door neighbor came out to explain how the nutria had stubbornly and seemingly desperately taken refuge on her porch — rather than his natural aquatic habitat — we knew that he was likely looking for a safe place to die.
There is currently no funding to support the rehabilitation or even testing of animals like this one, so he will be put down without an examination. My neighbor and I both felt torn over this, but there really weren’t any other options. Releasing a likely sick animal back into the community where he could infect other nutrias or even neighborhood cats and dogs wasn’t responsible, plus he would have just ended up back on my neighbors porch.
I said a quiet blessing over the nutria, and went back inside.