We’re coming off a bitter election year in which it seems like the Republicans want to vanquish the Democrats and the Democrats want to vanquish the Republicans.
So it’s comforting to know that there is at least one thing they can agree on: We all want to vanquish the nutria.
The orange-tooth rodents have been the scourge of Louisiana for decades, eating away at the roots of the plants that hold our fragile marshes together. In two decades, they have turned more than 40 square miles into open water, according to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The imported South American critters have menaced Louisiana and Maryland, but now they have gone national, and are destroying wetlands in Oregon and California.
So it was heartening to see that President Donald Trump signed a bill this month to expand the fight. The measure broadens the scope of the 17-year-old Nutria Eradication and Control Act and triples funding for the fight against the stubborn rodents, who breed year-round and can produce as many as 13 offspring in a litter.
Under the measure, Uncle Sam will spend $12 million a year fighting nutria for the next five years.
In Louisiana, much of the money goes to pay $6 apiece to kill nutria. The state just increased the rate to help boost incentives for trappers, who are turning in about half as many tails as the state collected ten years ago.
The nutria eradication program is a classic example of a public-private partnership that benefits all parties. Except, of course, for the nutria.