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Swamp Rats Have Invaded Central Valley District, Prompting California Congressman to Declare War

A nutria is pictured in a park in Frankfurt, western Germany, on June 9, 2018. (Credit: Yann Schreiber/AFP/Getty Images)

A nutria is pictured in a park in Frankfurt, western Germany, on June 9, 2018. (Credit: Yann Schreiber/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Josh Harder’s opponents have called him a “shady venture capitalist” and “rabid socialist extremist” who only cares about “big donors and socialist Democrats in San Francisco.”

But last weekend, dressed in shirtsleeves and rubber waders, the freshman Democratic congressman from Turlock tried to buck that image. Harder sloshed through waist-deep muddy water in 90-degree heat as he accompanied state wildlife officials to check animal traps for signs of nutria. The invasive swamp rat has taken up residence in his Central Valley congressional district, threatening to damage levees, disrupt the state’s water supply and knock the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem out of balance.

“Trap One is empty!” Harder called out after watching one of his tour guides fiddle with a small metal cage.

With the August congressional recess in full swing, Harder and other vulnerable California freshmen are back in their districts highlighting local issues that they hope will help them court their constituents and avoid partisan bickering in Washington. Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) helped pass additional funding for wildfire prevention efforts and Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) held a field hearing on the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant and what to do about its waste.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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