Trying To Curb the Bite of the Nutria
Louisiana has a bit of a nutria problem. The rodent with the thick fur, small eyes and scaly tail does tons of damage to the state's delicate coastline, eating marshland that protects farmland from strong storms.
Nutria, who reach sexual maturity after three months, can breed with alarming speed, having litters every eight to 12 weeks.
A Louisiana company has come up with a sometimes-controversial solution that's worked for a while now - nutria dog treats.
Tricks To Treats
The company Marsh Dog in Baton Rouge takes nutria meat, brought to them by bounty hunters, and makes it into dog treats.
Hansel Harlan, Marsh Dog president, says this is a great way to curb the damage nutria can cause:
“[Nutria] are a herbivore that absolutely love our wetlands and devour it like nobody’s business. By creating a market for nutria, we incentivize people to hunt the nutria, which keeps their population in check.”
Is This OK?
Things have been going okay, and while the damage from nutria continues to rise, some question whether the bounty hunter program and dog-treat solution is ethical.
According to a statement fromStephanie Bell, senior director for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):
"Killing nutria will never control their population—officials have been down this road before in Louisiana—as other nutria will simply move in from surrounding areas to fill the void, and the only way to effectively reduce their numbers is to make the environment unappealing to them.”
What Else Can They Do?
Harlan stands by his product, saying this is the best way to combat the pesky nutria, which now can be found in at least 16 states.
“We as a company, certainly, do not demonize the nutria. It’s not their fault that they were brought here."
“Not only do they cause coastal erosion, they displace other native species and they create immeasurable harm and jeopardize the survival of the existence of the entire ecosystem.”