'Eating-out' might be a term you associate with a pleasant experience, especially in south Louisiana where the food is good and the atmosphere is casual. Another kind of 'eat-out' in Louisiana that is not so pleasant, though, is where nutria, large semiaquatic rodents introduced from South America, have literally eaten up the coastline.
Nutria live in fresh, intermediate, and brackish marshes and wetlands and feed on vegetation (herbivory) that is vital to sustaining the Louisiana coastline. Their 'eat-outs' create openings in the marsh vegetation, and they are currently affecting an estimated 100,000 acres of coastal wetlands.
With Louisiana's coastal wetlands converting to open water at a rate of 25-35 square miles (65-91 square kilometers) each year, nutria are an additional burden to an already stressed ecosystem.
The nutria, or coypu (Myocastor coypus), was introduced into the United States in 1899 in California for the fur-farming industry. Since then, they have been introduced to many states and currently have viable populations in 15. Like many introductions of nonnative plants and animals, the introduction of nutria into the United States was intentional and originally viewed as a way to provide economic benefit.