Waterways Ireland advises all users of sightings on the Royal Canal at Ashtown of a large invasive rodent species that is highly damaging to river, lake and canal banks.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the coypu — also known as the nutria in the United States — is regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to agriculture, the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.
The coypu is an EU-regulated species of concern with trade, transport and reproduction restrictions in place (No.1143/2014).
The large river rats can also carry a number of serious diseases communicable to humans and domestic animals.
Waterways Ireland says coypu eradication programmes can cost up to several millions of euro and are not always successful.
Most recently there were sightings of the rodents in Cork city two years ago, after a number were trapped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in a tributary of the River Lee.
But their presence across the country in the capital raises concerns about their further spread throughout Ireland’s inland waterways.
Waterways Ireland has provided a checklist for how to spot a coypu, which are often confused with common otters:
- Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1 meter in head to tail length. Features same in juveniles.
- It can weigh 5-9kg.
- It has webbed hind feet.
- Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle.
- Has long cylindrical tail (not fur tail like otter) and small slightly protruding ears.
- Distinctive features are large bright orange-yellow incisor (front) teeth usually visible.
- Coypu are generally found near permanent water.
Do not attempt to engage, trap or harm these animals.
Waterways Ireland appeals for the public keep a lookout along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal at Ashtown, and report sightings (with photos is possible) to any of the following:
- Waterways Ireland Environment Section 061-922141
- NPWS at [email protected] or your local NPWS ranger with details of location/date and a photo if available
- [email protected]
For more information visit species.biodiversityireland.ie.