The number of nutrients killed is growing every year. Thousands are already being hunted, but it is still not enough
More and more nutria are being hunted in the Czech Republic. Since 2003, hunters have killed over 36,000 of them. However, cities, where they thrive much better than in the wild, continue to struggle with their proliferation. However, the problems must be valuable in protected landscape areas, where this rodent grazes valuable plant species and disturbs the shores of ponds.
Until 2002, hunters in the Czech Republic did not catch a single nutria, a year later they caught over 150 of them. And since then, these numbers have been growing every year. In 2019, from which the last data of the Institute for Forest Management come, it was already 7722 nutrients. Newer numbers are still missing, but the testimony of hunters and municipalities shows that the situation is getting worse. For example, in the Hradec Králové region alone, they caught over three thousand nutrients last year.
Cities across the country are complaining about the proliferation of the invasive rodent species. In Pardubice, Český Dub, Kuřim and Hradec Králové, they have already banned their citizens from feeding nutrients.
Coypu began to reproduce uncontrollably in Prague. “The urban environment, mild winters, year-round feeding and the absence of a natural predator are very good for them, so their population is growing exponentially,” explained Petra Fišerová, a spokeswoman for the Forests of the Capital City of Prague.
Last year, they caught 250 nutrients in Prague, another 45 this year. According to Vltava River Basin spokesman Hugo Roldán, the animals are first caught in cages and then killed in the same way as, for example, rabbits, ie by rapidly breaking the spinal cord.
Otherwise, they deal with excessive nutrients in the Hradec Králové region, where coypu are shot on hunting grounds by hunters. As in Prague, some of the nutrients are then caught in cages. In the last year alone, hunters in the entire region have caught over three thousand overpopulated rodents.
It is in cities that nutria thrives better. “Already today we observe that in rivers and water areas in built-up areas the population density is often higher than in the open landscape,” said Ondřej Mikulka from the Institute of Forest Protection and Hunting of Mendel University in Brno.
However, they also cause damage in protected landscape areas. In the Bohemian Paradise, where hundreds of them live, in addition to grazing valuable plant species around ponds and reservoirs, they also threaten unique peat bogs. Nutria build their burrows not only in the banks, but also in dams. “Nutria, which live in the Vidlák pond, for example, disrupt its shores and endanger the surrounding peat bogs, which depend on the state of the pond,” said Jiří Klápště, head of the Bohemian Paradise Protected Landscape Area Administration.
The nutritional status in the Bohemian Paradise could be reduced by harsh winters, which nutria from South America hate. The management of the protected landscape area is arranged with local hunters, who in the event of a large overpopulation will intervene and reduce the status of the overpopulated rodent. “The main thing is not to feed and not support them. In the Bohemian Paradise, but also elsewhere,” Klápště added.
However, smaller cities also solve the problem with nutrients. In Tábor, for example, they caught nine nutrients last year on the Lužnice and Blanica rivers. Coypu also multiplied in Český Dub, where they caused damage to the local gardening colony. The city, with the permission of the Liberec municipality, began blasting. “To date, the hunting association has caught seven nutrients and signs with a ban on feeding have been installed in the area of their occurrence,” said Deputy Mayor Ondřej Fila.
The State Veterinary Administration also warns against feeding nutria. “We definitely recommend not looking for contact with nutrients and not feeding the animals. There is always a risk of potential injury when in contact with them,” said Petr Vorlíček, a spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration.
According to Vlastimil Waice, a spokesman for the Czech-Moravian Hunting Unit, a bite of nutrients can be dangerous for dogs, but it is also very painful for humans. “It transmits a number of diseases, such as leptospirosis, brucellosis, tularemia and salmonellosis,” Waic concluded.
Coypu is an invasive species, native to South America. According to the Ministry of the Environment, their number in the Czech Republic can be estimated at tens of thousands of individuals. They occur in the vicinity of waters mainly in warmer areas, ie especially in the Elbe. An anti-invasive amendment to the Nature Conservation Act is currently being prepared, which simplifies the capture of nutria. The current laws keep hunting nutria only for hunting farmers and members of the hunting guard, which is approximately 10 to 15 percent of all hunters.