North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Nutria

Scientific Name: Myocaster coypus bonariensis
Classification:  Game
Abundance: Locally abundant

Species Profile (PDF) 

   

     

 

Nutrias are a non-native rodent that were imported into the United States from South America in the early 1900s as a way to control noxious plant species. They live in aquatic habitats along the banks of marshes, swamps, and impoundments, and beaver ponds in areas of eastern North Carolina. They are primarily herbaceous and feed on the roots and rhizomes of aquatic marsh plants. Cord grasses, cattails, three square, and pickerel weed are some favorites. Nutrias may also feed on agricultural crops such as rice, corn, and cabbage.

They are larger than a muskrat but smaller than a beaver. They have small eyes and ears, well developed whiskers, and large dark orange protruding incisors. The tail is long, rounded, and almost hair-less. The fore legs are small and the front feet have five un-webbed toes, one of which is claw-less and reduced in size. The hind legs are much larger and four of the five clawed toes on each hind foot are webbed. The fur is coarse and ragged and may vary in color from yellowish brown to dark brown. The chin is often white and the belly is pale gray.

  • There is no closed season or bag limit on Nutria. No permit is required to shoot if the landowner is doing the shooting of a nutria causing property damage. Check to see if local ordinances prohibit discharge of firearms.
  • East of I-77 there is no closed season or bag limit for trapping nutria. Any second party trapping nutria on the landowner’s property east of I-77 must have a valid trapping license or a depredation permit. A landowner trapping nutria east of I-77 does not need a permit.
  • West of I-77 a landowner can trap nutria during the legal trapping season without a permit or with a depredation permit outside the trapping season.  If a second party is trapping for the landowner the second party must have a valid trapping permit during the trapping season or a depredation permit outside the trapping season.
  • The complainant may contact a certified Wildlife Damage Control Agent to help solve their problem.

 

Hunting Regulations

Trapping Regulations

Nutrias live in aquatic habitats along the banks of marshes, swamps, and impoundments, and beaver ponds in areas of eastern North Carolina. They are primarily herbaceous and feed on the roots and rhizomes of aquatic marsh plants. Cord grasses, cattails, three square, and pickerel weed are some favorites. Nutrias may also feed on agricultural crops such as rice, corn, and cabbage.Large floating platforms of vegetation as much as 5-6 feet across are often constructed for feeding activities. High populations of nutrias are capable of converting marsh habitat into open water.

  • Nutria can cause damage to dikes and dams by burrowing (as can muskrats) or destroying (eating) native vegetation. High numbers may result in extensive removal of vegetation, creating bare banks and dikes that are susceptible to erosion. Nutria occasionally consume crops (particularly corn). Nutria compete with the native and more valuable muskrat.
  • There is no closed season or bag limit on Nutria. No permit is required to shoot if the landowner is doing the shooting of a nutria causing property damage. Check to see if local ordinances prohibit discharge of firearms.
  • East of I-77 there is no closed season or bag limit for trapping nutria. Any second party trapping nutria on the landowner’s property east of I-77 must have a valid trapping license or a depredation permit. A landowner trapping nutria east of I-77 does not need a permit.
  • West of I-77 a landowner can trap nutria during the legal trapping season without a permit or with a depredation permit outside the trapping season.  If a second party is trapping for the landowner the second party must have a valid trapping permit during the trapping season or a depredation permit outside the trapping season.
  • The complainant may contact a licensed trapper to remove the nutria. During the trapping season, trappers often don’t charge for their services if they are able to recoup their costs (gas, travel, equipment) by selling the fur of furbearer animals they catch on your property.  
  • The complainant may contact a certified Wildlife Damage Control Agent to help solve their problem.