Nutria, a semi-aquatic mammal native to South America, have become a pest in coastal areas of North America for more than 2 decades. The rodents, similar in size to a small beaver, are directly responsible for the destruction of over 100,000 acres of coastal wetlands and impact native species such as otter, muskrat, beaver, birds, crustaceans, and fish—all of whom rely on wetland habitat. In Louisiana alone, wetlands are destroyed at a rate of about one football field every 45 minutes!
Besides destroying the roots that hold our marshes in place, nutria also compete for habitat and food with native mammals like muskrat, beaver, and otter; destroy crops like sugar cane and rice; and compromise levees, dikes, roads, and banks by burrowing.
So, one Louisiana dog treat manufacturer – Marsh Dog – found a solution. They harvest the pest as a delicious and healthy treat for pets!
Marsh Dog Treats are made predominately from nutria hunted and trapped in the state’s coastal areas. Trappers there are able to participate in the state’s Coastwide Nutria Control Program, which 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.
According to the Marsh Dog website,
- Nutria meat has more protein and less fat than chicken or turkey. (Few dog treats contain any protein at all.)
- Nutria only eat fresh marsh vegetation and occasionally crops like sugar cane. This is the reason Nutria are a serious problem but it’s also why the quality of meat is so excellent.
- Nutria contain no artificial hormones. (There are six different kinds of steroid hormones that are currently approved by FDA for use in sheep and cattle—the two primary proteins used in dog food.)
- Nutria meat is natural a bright red color. (Processed meats often contain sodium nitrite used as a preservative and to color products red so they “appear” fresh. A diet high in sodium nitrites may lead to a health condition that inhibits red blood cells from transporting oxygen throughout the body. (American Medical Association)
- Dogs love the fresh, wild taste.
The Marsh Dog “Barataria Bites” treats are a crunchy biscuit-style treat and also contain brown rice, oat groats, sweet potatoes, eggs, blackstrap molasses, garden parsley and cayenne pepper. The Marsh Dog “Bark” is a dry-roasted wild nutria jerky-type treat. Both are a healthy and nutritious treat that dogs love – that also contributes to saving our wetlands!
The dog treats are available at pet food retailers around Louisiana or online at Marshdog.com.