Harder Demands Trump Administration Halt Plan to Disband Invasive Species Council

October 3, 2019
Press Release
Central Valley Faces Threat from Invasive Swamp Rats: Without Action, State Could be Infested Within Five Years

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) is calling on the Trump Administration to reverse its plan to disband the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), which unifies all federal efforts to combat invasive species into a single body. Over a dozen federal agencies and organizations share responsibility for combating invasive species, making the NISC one of the most important tools in the fight against these threats. In a letter, Rep. Harder noted the mounting challenge his district faces regarding the nutria, an invasive species and giant rodent – originally from South America – which can cause substantial economic and ecological damage.

The text of the letter is below, and an original copy is available here.

I write today regarding reports that the administration plans to defund and disband the National Invasive Species Council (NISC). I urge the Administration to reconsider this course of action given the importance of this council for combatting invasive species, including nutria in California and across the country in other nutria-impacted states.

My district in California’s Central Valley is facing an invasion by the nutria, an invasive species of rodent originally from South America.  Disbanding this important committee may have detrimental effects on the local and national effort to stop the nutria.

Nutria threaten local farmers, water infrastructure, and indigenous wildlife. They can weigh up to forty pounds, eat a quarter of their body weight every day, and reproduce at a shocking rate. One female nutria can result in 200 offspring in a single year. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that without aggressive action to contain the species, the population of nutria in California could explode to 250,000 nutria within five years.

The ramifications of undermining or slowing down this effort could be costly for the state and federal government. This is an extreme situation. We require the full force of all federal partners in this fight. Disbanding the NISC when we face such an imminent threat is imprudent.

As you know, over a dozen different agencies and organizations within the federal government are responsible for sharing the fight on invasive species.  The NISC unifies all of these disparate efforts and also provides high-level expertise through the NISC’s Secretariat. The full-time professional staff at the Secretariat produce high-quality training materials that help partner departments in their efforts to stop invasive species. This is all done at a low-cost to the taxpayer that yields a valuable impact to local communities.

California is in the fight of its life against a giant, invasive swamp rat. This is not the time to disband the federal body charged with leading the charge against invasive species. I respectfully ask you to reconsider this decision without delay.

Rep. Harder is leading federal efforts to stop the onslaught of nutria in California’s Central Valley. In June, he introduced legislation to reauthorize the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003, which was considered successful in the Chesapeake Bay. The bill would direct $7 million in funding towards management of the species in California. Programs supported by the bill encourage habitat protection, education, research, monitoring, and capacity building to provide for the long-term protection of wetlands from destruction caused by nutria.

Without help, it’s estimated that there could be up to 250,000 Nutria in California within five years. Nutria were originally introduced to the United States as part of the fur trade in the late 1800s but were eradicated from California in the 1970s. The species was rediscovered in the Central Valley in 2017. Nearly 700 nutria have been removed from the Central Valley since this first sighting. They can devour up to 25 percent of their body weight daily and have up to 200 offspring per year.

Issues: