By Jeremy Cox, Bay Journal News Service
State and federal wildlife officials are declaring a rare victory over an invasive pest in Maryland.
After more than 20 years of effort, they announced Sept. 16 that the state is officially free of nutrias, a species of giant rodents that once numbered in the thousands on the Eastern Shore.
“After years of hard work and partnership, we have proven that eradication of this invasive species is possible,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.
Nutrias are believed to have been introduced from South America in the 1940s and were bred for the fur market. Once loosed into the wild, the rodents’ habit of consuming marsh plants — roots and all — led to the destruction of 5,000 acres of wetlands in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, an important…