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Worldwide Distribution, Spread of, and Efforts to Eradicate the Nutria (Myocastor coypus)

North America

North America Map Northern Mexico California Oregon Washington British Columbia Idaho Montana Utah New Mexico Colorado Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Michigan Illinois Indiana Ohio Kentucky Tennessee Mississippi Alabama Florida Georgia North Carolina Virginia Maryland Ontario and Quebec Nova Scotia Delaware Alabama: Brought into Alabama by the Alabama Department of Conservation in 1949 as weed control agents (Lueth, 1949; Evans, 1970). They now have a viable feral population (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

: Imported into Arkansas in the late 1940s as weed control agents (Evans, 1983). They must not have formed a viable population at that time because they were not noted again until the early 1960s when they reentered the State by range expansion from Louisiana (Bailey and Heidt, 1978). They are now feral throughout much of the State (Bailey and Heidt, 1978).

The first nutria imported into the United States went to Elizabeth Lake, California, for fur farming in 1899 (Evans, 1970). Although this attempt at fur farming was not successful, subsequent importations must have been made because by 1940, California had a small feral population of nutria (Schitoskey and others, 1972). Conditions in California are generally not favorable for nutria in the wild. A small eradication program was successful and Deems and Pursley (1978) report they were eradicated by 1978.

Nutria were imported into Colorado for fur farming, and a small feral population is present (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

: Nutria present (Bounds, 2000); most likely range expansion from Maryland.

Nutria were introduced into Florida in the 1950s for fur farming (Brown, 1975). They have escaped captivity, or were released, and are now feral (Brown, 1975; Deems and Pursley, 1978).

Nutria were introduced into Georgia for weed control by State and Federal agencies (Evans, 1970, 1983). They are now feral there (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

A small feral population exists (Deems and Pursley, 1978), but Bounds (2000) indicates they are extinct.

Nutria were reported in Illinois (Kennedy and Kennedy, 1998). Their present status is unknown. Bounds (2000) reports nutria are extinct.

: Nutria were imported into Indiana for fur farming, some escaped but were eradicated (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

: Nutria were imported into Kansas for fur farming. Their present status is unknown (Deems and Pursley, 1978); Bounds (2000) indicates they are no longer present.

Nutria were introduced by State and Federal agencies for weed control but did not survive (Evans, 1970, 1983; Deems and Pursley, 1978).

First introduction near New Orleans in the early 1930s, but they were quickly trapped out (Evans, 1970; Bailey and Heidt, 1978). Brought back into Louisiana in 1938 for fur farming; the nutria escaped in 1940 by burrowing out of pens and climbing over fences damaged by a hurricane (Evans, 1970; Lowery, 1974; Bailey and Heidt, 1978). It is feral in the State and is controlled by trapping and alligators (Lowery, 1974; Deems and Pursley, 1978; Wolfe and Bradshaw, 1987).

First recorded introduction was in 1943 (Willner and others, 1979). Feral nutria were detected in 1952 (Willner and others, 1979). Early attempts at eradication were unsuccessful; the population has since dispersed throughout the State into all suitable habitat (Willner and others, 1979). Currently studies are underway to determine the best strategy for eradicating nutria from Maryland’s wetlands (Bounds, 1998; Haramis and Colona, 1999).

Were first farmed in Michigan in the 1930s (Evans, 1970, 1983). Although some were accidentally released they did not survive in the wild (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

Nutria have been present in Minnesota on fur farms. Some have been accidentally released into the wild but did not survive (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

Nutria are in Mississippi because of range expansion from Louisiana (Wolfe, 1971; Deems and Pursley, 1978; Kennedy and Kennedy, 1998).

Nutria were present in Missouri, but the date of introduction and present status is unknown (Deems and Pursley, 1978; Kennedy and Kennedy, 1998). Nutria are probably extinct (Bounds, 2000).

Hall (1981) mentions nutria in Montana. Nutria are probably extinct (Bounds, 2000).

Nebraska: Reported in Nebraska, but none have survived in the wild (Deems and Pursley, 1978; Hall, 1981).

New Mexico:
Introduced for fur farming (Evans, 1970, 1983; Deems and Pursley, 1978); they are feral but their populations are small (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

North Carolina:
There is a viable feral population of nutria (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

Imported for fur farming in 1937 (Bednarik, 1961). Some escaped or were released into the wild. No wild populations currently exist (Bednarik, 1961; Deems and Pursley, 1978).

: Recorded in Oklahoma and are present in low numbers (Deems and Pursley, 1978), but source of nutria unknown.

: Imported for fur farming in 1937; some escaped and feral nutria were officially recorded as early as 1941 (Larrison, 1943). Currently a viable wild population exists (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

A hurricane is thought to have scattered nutria into East Texas from Louisiana in 1941 (Evans, 1983); however, there might have been some direct releases into the marshes of east Texas as well. By 1979 nutria were recorded in the trans-Pecos area of Texas (Deems and Pursley, 1978; Hollander and others, 1992).

The first nutria was observed in 1996; there is a small wild population (Kennedy and Kennedy, 1998) which is most likely from range expansion.

: Imported for fur farming in 1939 (Evans 1970, 1983); some may have escaped but did not survive in the wild (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

: It is hypothesized that nutria expanded into the State from North Carolina (Deems and Pursley, 1978; Pagels, 1989).

Imported in the late 1930s and early 1940s for fur farms (Larrison, 1943); feral nutria were reported as early as 1941 (Larrison, 1943). As of fall 2005 there were records for eight different nutria populations in the State in addition to a recently discovered population in the Skagit Valley ( Nutria populations are apparently expanding after a recent run of mild winters. The current range of nutria in Washington State is significantly less than the available habitat according to the Washington GAP analysis project so there is a high potential for expansion into new areas.

British Columbia:
Introduced for fur farming (Holdom, 1944); the earliest record of feral nutria is from 1943 (Holdom, 1944). A feral population is still present (Banfield, 1974; Deems and Pursley, 1974; Evans, 1970, 1983)

: Feral in the Ottawa River drainage of Ontario (Banfield, 1974).

Nova Scotia:
Imported for fur farming; some were accidentally released into the wild (Deems and Pursley, 1978). Currently no wild populations are known to exist (Deems and Pursley, 1978).

Imported in 1927. This is the earliest record of successfully fur farmed nutria (Evans, 1970). They are feral in the Ottawa River drainage of Quebec (Banfield, 1974). No recent records for Quebec are available.

Northern Mexico:
There is no documentation for nutria in northern Mexico; however, they have been noted in the Rio Grande River Valley on the border between Mexico and Texas in Big Bend National Park (J. Carter, USGS). Therefore, it is probable that suitable marsh area on the Mexican side of the border is inhabited by nutria.


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