Heard on the Hill

Rep. Harder wants to fight the swamp rats (outside D.C.)

Democrat hopes bill will eradicate invasive species in California

Rep. Josh Harder toted a taxidermied “swamp rat” named Nellie to a subcommittee hearing Tuesday. (Courtesy of Harder's Office)

As bunnies hopped around the Rayburn building on Tuesday, Longworth hosted a critter that wasn’t so cute — or cuddly.

Rep. Josh Harder toted a taxidermied “swamp rat” named Nellie to his hearing in front of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife.

The California Democrat said the semi-aquatic rodent species known as nutria — complete with orange teeth —  is invading his home state and disrupting wildlife and the local ecosystem, including almond trees.

Harder introduced a bill in June to revive legislation that helped eradicate a similar nutria infestation in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay more than a decade ago.

Harder’s bill would direct funds toward programs that would protect California wetlands from the destruction caused by nutria, according to a press release.

Harder said farmers and environmentalists have expressed concerns about the invasive species. “This issue unites them in a way very few issues in front of this committee do,” Harder told the subcommittee. “This is a commonsense issue we need to get behind.”

California Democratic Reps. Jim Costa, John Garamendi, TJ Cox and Barbara Lee have signed on as co-sponsors.

Nellie, meanwhile, is looking for teeth-whitening strips.

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