Nutria population explosion, feeding contributes to escalation of the problem
7. 6. 2021 -
Among the most invasive animals on the planet, nutria is overbreeding in the Czech landscape. However, people generally consider them harmless creatures, and even feed them near large settlements, which makes the problem even more serious. At the same time, nutria displace native species of animals, disrupt river banks by building burrows and carry various diseases.
"In recent years, we have seen an unprecedented increase in nutria in the Czech countryside. The probable cause of the expansion is very mild winters and favourable conditions in the landscape. In these conditions, nutria reproduce several times a year, giving birth to 4-6 cubs in one litter," said Ondřej Mikulka from the Department of Forest Conservation and Wildlife management at MENDELU FFWT. The nutria birth rate is relatively high, while their mortality rate is relatively low. In combination with intensive feeding, the population boom is understandable. "We can already see that, in rivers and water areas in built-up areas, the population density is often higher than in the open landscape," said Mikulka.
Regulation of nutria is a relatively complex issue, but people should stop feeding them in the first place. Hunters can intervene on hunting grounds, either by direct hunting or capture. "However, this comes into conflict with the public, who take the regulation of these animals with great reluctance and are not well-informed on the issue. Of course, hunters will not voluntarily expose themselves to a public lynch-mob," said the scientist. Outside hunting grounds, where the nutria has a similar status to other wild animals and can be hunted without restriction, the person is authorized by the locally competent state administration. "Not only in the case of nutria, but also other invasive species of mammals, there is a lack of sufficient ecological education and enlightenment. The first step is therefore to explain the need for regulation, and a motivational reward for hunters also works well," Mikulka added.
Contact person for more information: RNDr. Ondřej Mikulka, Department of Forest Protection and Hunting, FFWT MENDELU, tel .: 739 465 167, firstname.lastname@example.org