Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office SWAT team — carrying .22’s, spotlights and Diet Cokes — made their way to their newest shooting range: the 17th Street Canal.
Lafreniere Park and drainage canals and levees throughout the parish have been the scene of many of the previous nutria shootouts over the years. But maintenance workers recently noted that the canal seems to be the new home for nutria, which look like rats with lots of orange plaque and can wreak havoc on urban infrastructure.
On Wednesday night, the SWAT team set out to kill its 18,667th nutria. But as the team rumbles its way into a 13th year of nutria hunting, the question remains: Will we ever be rid of the pests?
Nutria can also dive deep, coming up 100 yards from where they plunged in, and scamper into the burrows that line the canal banks.
It’s these burrows that cause sinkholes and have already mangled the intake pipes in the 17th Street Canal, said Chief Bob Garner of the East Jefferson Levee District Police.
The arithmetic of nutria genealogy in Louisiana, where they have no natural predators, goes something like this, experts say: Three years of life divided by four months of gestation times 15 nutria per litter equals a major nuisance, even minus an average of 1,300 nutria killed each year by the Sheriff’s Office hunters.