From The Cooldown – Populations of nutria are spreading across a growing portion of the U.S. Many states are taking steps to eliminate the animal before it destroys local wetlands, but some, like Louisiana, are already overrun. Since nutria are partly aquatic, they like to live in marshes, swamps, and bayous, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. When allowed to breed and become established in these areas, nutria can strip the environment bare of marsh plants, leaving only water and wreaking havoc on the larger ecosystem. As the United States Geological Survey explains, wetlands are vital for many reasons. They help purify our water, contributing to the water sources humans rely on, while also providing natural flood protection, keeping our communities safe during extreme weather events. The plants in wetland areas help prevent large areas of coastline from eroding, not to mention providing food and shelter for many species of animals. When nutria disrupt these natural systems, they damage water sources, property, and the environment all at once. (more)