The coypu or nutria is a large rodent from South America. It was first introduced into Europe in the 19th century for fur farming. While farming has been abandoned in the meantime, the species has since colonised coastal marshes, swamps and other wetland areas in no less than 19 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain). It has, however, already been eradicated from the United Kingdom.
Considered a major pest across much of the EU, the coypu is estimated to cost over 65 million euros a year in economic damage and management costs.
Because of its voracious appetite, it severely disrupts the natural habitats and alters the composition of local plant communities. Additionally, it degrades river banks and irrigation systems through its extensive burrowing activities and has a major impact on agriculture.
A ban on sales, a phasing out of any ownership, a rapid eradication of any newly emerging population, and the management of established populations should help to contain the invasion.
Its presence in Ireland (Not Northern Ireland) is described by the National Biodiversity Data Centre;
Present in the wild -under eradication.
Since the first verified sighting in Ireland in 2010, Coypu have been seen and reported from seven separate locations (up to May 15th, 2017). Just one animal was seen for six of the area sightings with two of the animals successfully removed and taken into captivity.
However one sighting in September 2016 was of at least 4 Coypu in the Curaheen River, Cork City. A rapid response to survey and remove the animals in the area was initiated on 03/10/2016 with 10 animals removed by 03/11/2016.
This sighting was the first formal Ireland Early Detection and Rapid Response alerts issued under the European Regulation on Invasive Alien Species [No. 1147/2014].
Ireland Coypu 2017 Species Alert
On May 7th 2017, a single Coypu was photographed swimming in the River Lee, Cork City about 4 kilometres from the Curaheen sightings. Efforts to ascertain extent of Coypu in Cork City area have been extended by encouraging citizen surveillance and reporting of all suspected sightings.