California congressman brings taxidermied swamp creature into Capitol

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., brought an interesting guest to the House floor on Wednesday in an effort to sway Congress to vote in favor of a piece of legislation he introduced.

Harder was joined at the pulpit on Wednesday by “Nellie” the Nutria – a stuffed “swamp creature” that Harder says is an example of a species that is ravaging California’s crops and that he wants to eradicate.

This is the second time “Nellie” has made an appearance on Capitol Hill – with the first coming during a congressional hearing last September – as Harder pushes his bipartisan bill to reauthorize a program which helps states like California battle the invasive species of giant rodents.

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“People see swamp rats all the time roaming the halls of DC,” Harder said. “But I believe this is actually the first time in American history that we a taxidermied swamp creature on the actual floor of the House of Representatives.”

He added: “She may look cute to some people, but Nellie and her friends are a real menace, and farmers across California’s Central Valley and residents of the Louisiana swamp can tell you how serious a threat these giant swamp rats pose.”

(Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., brought a stuffed swamp creature during a congressional hearing last September harder.house.gov)

Harder wants Congress to reauthorize the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003, which permitted the Secretary of the Interior to give financial assistance to Maryland and Louisiana for a program to eradicate nutria and restore marshlands damaged by the creatures.

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Harder wants the act to also encompass California, which he says could have more than 250,000 nutria in the next five years if left unchecked.

“This is a tiny investment compared to what will be necessary if we wait any longer,” Harder said.