Coastwide Nutria Control Program

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Prior to implementation of the Coastwide Nutria Control Program in 2002, fur trapping activity had declined drastically for over 10 years because of weak market demand and low prices.  In coastal Louisiana, this decline has resulted in overpopulation of nutria and serious damage to coastal wetlands from nutria herbivory.  Mature nutria are very prolific, leading to a high population.  Without significant annual harvest, nutria can cause significant damage to marshes and swamps in coastal Louisiana.  Annual aerial surveys from 1993 to 2001 have indicated that approximately 100,000 acres have been impacted coastwide.

This project’s objective is to significantly reduce the damage nutria herbivory causes to coastal wetlands.  The Coastwide Nutria Control Program is designed to remove about 400,000 nutria annually.  The control program consists of an incentive payment program to encourage nutria harvesting.  Nutria harvest locations are recorded in an effort to compare harvest levels and occurrence of herbivory damage.  The program is implemented by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Project Area

This project is located throughout the coastal zone of Louisiana.  The program area includes all basins and coastal parishes located south of Interstates 10 and 12.

The Coastwide Nutria Control Program was selected for Phrase 1 (engineering and design) funding at the January 2002 Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force meeting (Priority List 11).  Phase 2 (implementation) was approved during the April 2002 Task Force meeting and began in November 2002 with the 2002-03 Louisiana trapping season.  Over the first eight years of program implementation, nutria harvest has averaged 321,354 per year.  Acres damaged by herbivory has decreased from about 100,000 acres to about 8,500 acres since the program began.  The approved funding for this project is $36.7 M with a total estimated cost of $68.0 M.

This project is on Priority Project List 11.

The Coastwide Nutria Control Program’s two sponsors include:

  • Federal Sponsor: Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Local Sponsor: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

View this project and others at CWPPRA’s website

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