What do you do with a ratty-looking invasive species that’s eating its way through thousands of acres of coastal wetlands?
In Louisiana, entrepreneurs have made hats and purses out of them, and, for several years, state wildlife officials have offered $5 bounties to hunters and trappers in an attempt to curtail their numbers.
Now, a local company is turning nutria into dog treats:
“Marsh Dog uses an innovative market-based approach to solve the problem — wild Nutria dog biscuits … Owners can treat their dogs to an all-natural, artisanal treat that tastes good and does good while helping to support the fight to conserve the fastest disappearing land in the world—coastal wetlands.”
The Marsh Dog website says the locally made treats are being sold in numerous pet care outlets in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
And, the website makes clear, nutria are not rats. Despite public perceptions, despite a similarly slinky appearance, and despite sharing the same taxonomic order (as do squirrels, beaver, and guinea pigs) nutria are actually more closely related to porcupines or capybaras.
And they taste much better, the website says.
The Marsh Dog idea was born last year when owners Veni Harlan, a graphic designer, and her brother, Hansel Harlan, an attorney, were awarded a $7,022 grant by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, which helps fund attempts to curb the nutria population in Louisiana’s wetlands.
“We both cook for our dogs,” Veni Harlan explained to The Advocate. ”We’ve both been involved with dogs all our life.”
The Harlans make the biscuits – each batch takes about four days — in their new commercial-grade kitchen in the backyard, and they say demand keeps increasing.
“People like that it’s all-natural and has no preservatives, and, of course, that it’s made locally,” said J.T. Hackett, a manager at Petz Plaza, a Baton Rouge pet shop.
Nutria are an invasive species native to South America. They gnaw at the roots of marsh vegetation, causing the plants to die, which contributes to coastal erosion.
The state’s Coastwide Nutria Control Program pays trappers $5 per nutria for each tail they bring out of the marsh. The program is federally funded and managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Trappers also have the option of selling the animals to companies like Marsh Dog, or Righteous Fur, a New Orleans-based company that makes hats, messenger bags and more out of nutria.
The state’s goal is to shrink the nutria population in south Louisiana by 400,000 animals a year.
Nutria make up about 20 percent of each dog treat. The treats also include brown rice and black strap molasses. An 8-ounce bag of the treats retails for about $8.50.
“We honestly didn’t know how well they would be received,” Veni Harlan said. “And we’ve just been blown away. The people have really responded. They get it. They understand what this is about — that it’s about Louisiana.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, biscuits, bounties, coastal, curtailing, dog, dog biscuits, dog food, dog treats, dogs, erosion, hunters, invasive, louisiana, marsh, marsh dog, molasses, new orleans, nutria, nutria dog treats, pet food, pet treats, pets, population, rice, species, trappers, treats, wetlands
Kieri was on a bird-watching walk with her owner when she stuck her head into a trailside trap intended to instantly kill otters and beavers.
The 8-year-old, 38-pound Wheaten terrier, underwent surgery and seemed to be recovering, according to her owner, Jack Williamson. But in April, her pain returned. She underwent surgery this month, but continued to suffer and was put down Tuesday.
Kieri is among a half dozen dogs reported to have been caught in traps last winter in Central Oregon, three times more than usual,according to an Associated Press account based on a subscriber-only Bend Bulletin story.
State wildlife officials think the increase may be a result of trappers coping with high gasoline prices by setting their traps closer to town.
Williamson wants the state to ban the use of large body-gripping traps on land.
Members of the Oregon Trappers Association have met with Williamson and wildlife officials to discuss rules changes that would keep pets safer. The Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to review its rules when it meets next month.
According to a petition Williamson started on the website Care 2, current regulations in Oregon allow traps to be set on public land, concealed from view, without penalty of any kind for placement of traps that result in serious injury to people, or pets that are under control of their owner.
You can find more information about Kieri and the petition at Kieri.org
(Photo: From Kieri.org)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beaver trap, care2, commission, dangers, death, died, dog, dogs, euthanized, fur, hikers, hiking, hunting, injuries, jack williamson, kieri, land, oregon, oregon trappers association, otter trap, petition, pets, public land, regulations, rules, safety, spinal, spine, state, symbol, trails, trap, trappers, trapping, traps, warnings, wheaten terrier, wildlife