The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) annual Coastwide Nutria Control Program concluded its 2008-09 season on March 31, 2009 with 262 participants having harvested 334,038 nutria.

The harvest began on the first day of trapping season, Nov. 20, 2008. The goal of the program, funded by the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act, is to reduce or eliminate damage to Louisiana's wetlands caused by nutria by increasing the annual harvest to 400,000 nutria. Registered participants received a $5 incentive for each nutria tail brought to official collection locations along Louisiana's coast.

The program area is bounded on the north by Interstate 10 from the Texas line to Baton Rouge, Interstate 12 from Baton Rouge to Slidell, and I-10 from Slidell to the Mississippi line.

Licensed trappers harvested 25,826 more nutria than last year, bringing the total harvested during the seven years the program has been conducted to 1,790,829. The project goal is consistent with the Coast 2050 common strategy of controlling herbivore damage to coastal wetlands caused by nutria.

The majority of nutria harvested this year were in the south central portion of the state. The highest harvest occurred in Terrebonne Parish with 75,587 nutria, followed by Lafourche (48,252 nutria), St. Martin Parish (44,972 nutria), Plaquemines Parish (42,212 nutria), St. Mary Parish 34,811 (nutria) and St. Charles Parish (21,215 nutria).

LDWF assessed the amount and severity of the nutria damage for 2009 during aerial surveys conducted in April and May. A final report on the 2008-09 incentive program and aerial surveys will be available in July at the following Web sites: www.nutria.com and www.wlf.louisiana.gov.

Information was collected from each participant to determine the method of take, carcass use, and harvest date and location. This information along with the harvest maps and aerial survey data is used to track the progress of the program.