The invasive coypu mammal will take a minimum of 12 months to eradicate from areas where they have been detected in and a definite timeframe on removing them completely cannot be determined yet, according to Cork Wildlife Ranger Danny O'Keeffe.
Mr O'Keeffe said that sightings are in the dozens in Cork and the full scale of the problem is not yet known.
“In terms of how long [it will take to eradicate the animal], we have no idea. We're currently out looking at sites where there have been sightings. It's going to take a while,” he said.
“The Curaheen area is where the most sightings have been reported from. The Atlantic Pond is another area. On the Lee, by the Angler's Rest Pub, there was another sighting. We have to go to all these areas, we have to walk every section and we have to see and look for the signs if there are animals there or not,” he added.
The rodents are believed to be breeding after a small number were accidentally released near the Cork Greyhound track two years ago during an agricultural show. Coypus can be infected with several pathogens and parasites that can be transmitted to humans, livestock, and pets.
“Essentially, we're in the process of carrying out trapping at the moment in a location and I would expect after those animals are taken out, we'll be monitoring that site for another 12 months,” said Mr O'Keeffe.
“They were at it for 10 years in East Anglia but they had over 200,000 animals. We took animals out in September and October last year and there are animals back in the same location already this year.
"I would be giving it at least 12 months before we have an idea that we've eradicated the problem. It's not as simple as getting a sighting and going out and trapping an animal the following day. Most people see one animal [and] that animal is probably moving between locations.
“We're looking for signs of droppings, tracks and vegetation being eaten. If you consider the area that we have to work in, looking for signs that small, it's not that easy.
Any sightings of coypus can be reported to Cork wildlife ranger Danny O’Keeffe at 087 2472264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. All the information will be centralised to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.