View Full Version : New hunting opportunity - and you get paid!

November 20, 2002, 11:37 AM
From Newsday.com (http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-nutria-bounty1119nov19,0,581994.story?coll=sns-ap-nation-headlines):

Louisiana Puts Bounty on Rodents
Associated Press Writer
November 19, 2002, 2:07 PM EST

NEW ORLEANS -- Nutria -- furry, swamp-dwelling rodents that look like 10-pound rats with webbed feet -- are largely regarded as a nuisance in Louisiana's Cajun country. But they are wanted creatures nonetheless.

Starting Wednesday, the state of Louisiana will pay a $4-a-tail bounty -- officials prefer the term "incentive" -- in hopes of wiping out 400,000 nutria this winter.

The payment is part of an effort to save Louisiana's coast, which is disappearing at a rate of 35 square miles a year. Nutria, a non-native species that has overrun Gulf of Mexico wetlands since the value of their fur plummeted in the early 1980s, devour plants that keep the soil from washing away.

Longtime trapper Paul Autin said the bounty might help preserve his way of life a little longer as well.

"It's going to be a big help and it will keep people out there," Autin said in a thick Cajun accent. "Years ago, every second or third house out here had trappers. Now I feel like I'm one of the only ones left."

Nutria were brought from Argentina in the 1930s and raised on farms for their fur. Some escaped into the wild, and now they are so populous that their flattened carcasses litter southern Louisiana highways whenever high water from a major storm chases them out of the marshes to higher ground.

The state has tried to market nutria meat. Many people say they taste like farm-raised rabbit, and are lean and high in protein. But demand has never been high among Americans, despite the efforts of local gourmet chefs to come up with recipes for nutria gumbo, sausage, chili and jerky.

"It's really quite good," said Edmond Mouton, a Louisiana native who works for the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. "People at duck camps would historically cook nutria and say it was marsh rabbit. Everybody ate it and they wouldn't know the difference unless they were told. So it's all in the mind."

But even 59-year-old Autin, who has been catching nutria for four decades, has never eaten one.

"I'm sure they're good to eat. It's just that it's not a pretty animal," Autin said. "Of course, pretty shouldn't mean anything. You're not going to eat a cat and that's pretty."

State officials are looking toward China as a potential nutria market. But until they go nuts for nutria in Asia, the state has decided it will be worth $2 million to pay trappers to kill the rodents.

State wildlife officials say up to 100,000 acres of Louisiana marsh show signs of damage from nutria. The damage ranges from thinning vegetation to land that has been eroded below the surface of the water.

To collect the bounty, trappers must present the nutria tails frozen or salted.

Autin, who 28 years ago took a full-time job as a swinging-bridge operator because the money in trapping was so bad, said the reward might be just enough to help him break even if he can get an extra dollar or two for the pelt and carcass.

Trappers use mud boats to set and haul metal leg traps. It takes an experienced, keen eye to recognize where nutria are feeding by examining depressions in the marsh grass. Autin sets up 150 to 300 traps. His catch generally ranges from 15 to 50 a day -- 100 on a great day.

In the 1970s, trappers killed about 1.8 million nutria a year and fur coat makers, mostly in Europe, paid $4 to $8 a pelt. But demand fell, especially with the rise in popularity of leather and synthetics.

Pelts might get $1 or so nowadays. Alligator farmers often buy up the meat and grind it into feed, but they do not pay much more than a 25 cents a carcass.

Let's see, now... 400,000 critters at $4.00 a tail... that means an industrious hunter could make $1.6 million this season!!! :D

Art Eatman
November 20, 2002, 02:28 PM
Hoo, boy! Southla1 is gonna have a ball! "What to do after football season"! :D

:), Art

Keith Rogan
November 20, 2002, 03:53 PM
Many moons ago I lived in an apartment overlooking a canal in East New Orleans. From my bedroom window I was treated to a great view of the canal and opposite dike illuminated by a streetlight, and every evening that canal and dike was crawling with nutria. Being about 22 and not very concerned about things like laws and city ordinances, I bought a nice pellet rifle and taped a soda bottle "silencer" to the end of it and enjoyed many an evening sniping nutria and sucking down Dixie beers.

Of course, I'm much older and wiser now and would NEVER do that today... because I much prefer dark ales over Dixie...

November 20, 2002, 06:55 PM
Saw an episode of Insomniac with the stand-up comedian Dave Attell on Comedy Central. He goes around to various cities and tours the out-of-the-way night life. Actually a pretty fun show to watch.

Amongst his adventures in N'awlins, he went nutria hunting with the local authorities. Spotlights and scoped .22 rifles. The dude seemed to have a blast, and if I remember correctly, he blasted a nutria during the episode.

Man, those are some big rats. I love New Orleans, but I'd hate to run into one of these suckers in a dark alley.

November 20, 2002, 06:58 PM
I saw a t.v. special about this. Apparantly there are a few lucky New Orleans Police Department snipers who get paid to go out at night and spotlight nutes, shooting them with suppressed .22 rifles. But since the're on duty all they can drink is coffee and soft drinks. :(

November 22, 2002, 12:40 AM
"I'm sure they're good to eat. It's just that it's not a pretty animal,"

Louisianna just needs to change the name to.... LAND CATFISH!


November 23, 2002, 02:52 PM
I've been out of town, so I'm jumping on this thread late. It is the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office that has its SWAT deputies out hunting nutria at night. I doubt that NOPD has the guts to authorize that, at least as a matter of official policy.

Keith, what complex did you "stay at" in New Orleans I used to see a lot of nutria and alligators near apartment complexes in the East. I also see from your location that your wisdom does not end at choice of beverage.

November 23, 2002, 03:53 PM
I wonder if they still make Dixie? I used to be friends with a young nun (no dirty thoughts now fellows ;)) whose father was a brewmaster at the Dixie brewery. She used to bring me a couple of cases every week when she went home for the weekend. He got em free. As long as it was free it was the best beer ever made :D. If I had to buy it it was just so so. :D

On to nutria.....................if they REALLY wanted to get rid of em just say they are Federally Protected and taste great! No self respecting coonass (myself included) could pass em up.

Seriously, most of them are in the salt marshes, and most of that land is posted(which is no big deal to lots of coonasses but this land is also patrolled by private rent a cops{some whom have been shot at too}).

You may get a few on the leeves but not the majority of them. There are lots in the basin but a lot of the basin is a WMA and it's ilegal to have a firearm during a lot of the year. Besides that the gators have to eat too!

Keith Rogan
November 23, 2002, 04:04 PM

I don't recall the name of the complex now, but it was off Read Blvd near the expressway and not far from the Dunkin' Donuts. If you ever pop into that donut shop, ask for Michele the owner and tell her her old boyfriend Keith says "Hi" - and see how many shades of red she turns. I understand she's married now, so be careful who is around when you say that!

What with the endless Nutria and Beaver, I have fond memories of Nawlins!

November 23, 2002, 11:51 PM
I know the complex you're talking about Keith, and the donut shop. There's not much chance of me embarassing your ex GF, though, because I don't get back there much.