More than 16,000 “swamp rats” have washed ashore on Mississippi beaches, bringing with them a stench that has sent beach visitors fleeing.
Officials in Hancock County have closed beaches while front-end loaders and workers in full hazmat suits attempt to quickly find and discard of the dead animals. The workers are removing dead nutria, better known as swamp rats.
Officials in Harrison county in the meantime have removed 16 tons of dead animals over the last four days with more washing ashore from the Gulf of Mexico.
The Sun Herald reports that contractor US Environmental Services has been tasked with removing 16,000 to 18,000 dead nutria and various other animals that lost their lives during Hurricane Isaac.
The cleanup has been so horrid that more than half-dozen workers walked off their job sites on Sunday morning.
In a sickening moment for workers, the swamp rats have begun to bust open at the gut as they decompose on the beaches.
In past cleanup efforts following hurricanes, other workers have walked off job sites in Mississippi for similar reasons.
According to USA Today, the nutria issue is compounded by the fact that they are big time breeders that tend to overpopulate areas with up to five babies per litter. The nutria can bread up to three times per year and deliver 13. They are prolific breeders: A female averages about five babies per litter, can deliver up to 13 at a time, and can have up to three litters per year.
City officials are looking for more workers and relying on large scale equipment to continue their cleanup efforts.