The future is looking grim for an estimated 40 nutria living around Capitol Lake in Olympia. Washington state has paid the U.S. Agriculture Department $5,000 to shoot and kill as many as a two-person crew can find. Curt Hart with the state's Department of Enterprise Services makes the case against the large semi-aquatic rodents. Hart says they are considered an invasive species, can carry disease and can displace native animal and plant species.
Their burrowing can also damage roads and bridges around the lake, although Hart says the state hasn't noticed any damage yet. The nutria hunters will work at night, using a .22-caliber rifle with a silencer. KING talked with Bethany Jones, who says she occasionally sees nutria on her walks around the lake. She wonders whether they could just be moved. Hart says since the critters are considered invasive, state law requires them to be euthanized if caught. The state Fish and Wildlife Department says they are native to southern parts of South America. They were sold in the 1930s throughout North America to fur farmers and as a means of controlling unwanted aquatic vegetation. OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP and KING-TV) – August 6, 2014 IMAGES/KING5