Nutria have an 'ornery disposition'

PORTLAND, Ore. - Most people hate them.

Nutria can be destructive and they're considered a pest and an invasive species. They live near water like lakes, streams and swamps.

The species is at the center of a Southeast Portland neighborhood spat that led to a dog being shot over the weekend near Johnson Creek.

Priscilla Bush said her terrier, Marley, was shot and killed by her neighbor, Michael Hutchinson, with a pellet gun. She said the dog had a knack for keeping the giant rodents at bay.

She said Hutchinson likes the nutria and feeds them.

Hutchison now faces charges of animal abuse. He's due in court again one week from Monday.

Tim Tenbrink, who runs Critter Control, a pest management company, has dealt with nutria before. He doesn't recommend trying to trap them yourself.

"Nutria seem very ornery," he said. "Whenever they are in the cage, they'll charge at the cage when you come up to them. They'll come after ya (with) big beaver-like teeth, big orange teeth, sharp claws - they have an ornery disposition."

Nutria are considered a pest. They can be killed anytime without a license but most cities and towns have rules on using guns or lethal traps - so live traps are the most common solution. But once trapped, state rules say the animal has to be euthanized and relocated.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has rules on appropriate methods of euthanasia. It is a long list, but property owners should know drowning is not one of them.