Nutria in My Neck of the Woods
Nutria is an invasive rodent that was brought to the Louisiana area in the Roaring 20s with the plan of raising them for their luxurious fur to meet the needs of the rich wanting fancy coats. Then the Great Depression hit and the market for fur coats crumbled, followed by the escape/release of the nutria. Since then, they have spread out and now can be found in much of the US. They are very destructive to marshlands and riparian regions, eating plant stems and roots, but wasting much of the rest of the plant. Creole Weasel is not a known name for the nutria, but something my wife and I call them, kind of as a pet name.
Nutria are not really known in Virginia, but the other night, we had a big one cross the road in front of us near our house. That's the first one we've ever seen around here. I had a family of them living on a work property down closer to the Chesapeake Bay a few years back.
Seeing one so big and so close to our home got me to thinking... We have a bunch of ponds around our place, so nutria damage is a concern. I know the fur is super nice, so it might be good to learn how to tan and preserve a pelt. What about eating nutria? I think I saw Andrew Zimern eat one on Bizarre Foods, but I'm not positive. Are there any laws about harvesting them in Virginia?
Let me share what I found out.
As a landowner, I can hunt or trap nutria on my land with no license. As a nuisance species, there is open season all year long. That's good. Since they are attracted to vegetation, it might be hard to lure it into a trap, but it might be a good way to practice my snares set up in likely pathways.
There are plenty of ways to eat nutria. I found this website that lists quite a few recipes that sound delicious.
Anybody ever trap nutria? Any advice? How about a recipe you want to share?