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OLYMPIA, Wash. If you hear gunshots around Capitol Lake this week, don t worry. Unless you are a nutria.

The state has paid the U.S. Department of Agriculture $5,000 to shoot and kill as many nutria as the two-person crew can find.

There may be as many as 40 nutria living around the lake that circles half of the state Capitol in Olympia.

They can displace native animal and plant species. They can carry diseases, said Curt Hart with the state s Department of Enterprise Services.

Hart said a nutria s burrowing can damage roads and bridges around the lake.

The state has not noticed any damage yet, but the Department of Enterprise Services has decided to try to reduce the population before the nutria cause any problems.

We re nipping this in the bud, said Hart.

The crew will work at night. They have permission to use a boat in Capitol Lake if needed.

Hart said those who live near the lake likely will not even hear the gunshots.

The crew will use a .22 caliber rifle with a silencer.

Bethany Jones was sad to hear what might happen to the nutria she occasionally sees on walks around the lake.

They could be moved to another location that s a little more rural, where they ll be welcome, said Jones.

Hart said since nutria are invasive species, state law requires them to be euthanized after they are trapped.

Nutria are native to South America. They were brought to Washington in the 1930s to be used in the fur industry.

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