Nutria under the gun on the 17th Street Canal New Orleans
Posted by Andrew Vanacore June 05, 2008 11:02PM
A Jefferson Parish SWAT team has been called in to defend the 17th Street Canal.
The threat? Nutria, the orange-toothed rodents that eat through marshlands and levees, among other offenses. Officials say their numbers around the canal have jumped in the last year and a half, damaging levees.
"They've not only damaged the intake pipes but burrowed into holes along the canal," said Chief Bob Garner of the East Jefferson Levee District Police.
Inspections around the 17th Street Canal began turning up signs of nutria about a year and a half ago, said Danny Abadie, superintendent of operations for the East Jefferson Levee District Maintenance Department.
"We've seen a bunch of these critters out there," Abadie said. "They're eating at the base of the grasses," which can lead to soil erosion.
Over time, that erosion can add up. When Jefferson Parish officials first recognized the nutria epidemic in 1994, they estimated it had already caused $6 million to $8 million in damage.
Jefferson Parish SWAT teams have targeted the rodents along drainage canals for more than a decade.
Their ever-burgeoning numbers and destructive eating habits have left the nutria with few friends - even among animal rights groups.
Garner said he asked the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office to deploy the SWAT team as a favor.
SWAT members will stalk the rats with rifles in the wee hours, They plan to start as early as today. Garner said the operation could last weeks.
Go to the original story to see the comments, some of them very funny.
Like calling in professionals to deal with it: Blackwater? Don't think they could handle it.
Seriously, nutria do cause immense damage to levees and to wetlands, and have for many years.