HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Clean up is underway on the beaches of Bay St. Louis and Waveland where thousands of dead nutria washed ashore in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.
Officials with the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency say that parts of Beach Boulevard from Lakeshore Road to Washington Street have been closed while workers in hazardous materials suits try and pick up the carcasses.
Hancock County EMA officials estimate more than 15,000 swamp rats that were killed by Isaac's storm surge have washed up on the beach.
Flies and mosquitoes are already buzzing around the dead animals. Workers are using pitch forks to remove the nutria, which are then loaded onto front end loaders and eventually disposed of in landfills.
Authorities now worry about a potential health issue because of the stench from the animals and the possibility that they might bake and explode in the heat.
Residents have been advised to avoid that part of the beach for the time being.
"We don't want anybody out here in the stuff," said Hancock County Supervisor David Yarborough. "They're actually starting to swell up and bust. It smells really bad. So, any sightseers, you might want to second guess this one before you come out."
MEMA has agreed to fund the removal and disposal of the animal carcasses.