Guilt free fur
Creating a fashion for swamp rat
Written by Lynn
Can fashion fur be guilt free? A project in Louisiana believes the answer is yes if you are wearing swamp rat.
Nutria, also known as swamp rat, is an invasive species doing serious damage to the ecosystem around New Orleans. They use their massive front teeth to dig up plants by their roots, destroying marsh grasses and burrowing into the bayou sides. It’s the first step of coastal erosion. Nutria’s only predator is the alligator but there are not enough of them to keep the population under control.
Louisiana state has a control programme paying a bounty of $5 per nutria tail, and this year almost half a million of the animals were killed. However, only two percent of the culled nutria were utilised and the rest discarded. A fashion project called Righteous Fur was set up to use the pelts with the slogan ‘Save our wetlands, wear more nutria’.
Cree McCree who established the project said: “I think it is kind of criminal not to use the nutria.”
Righteous Fur’s designers have made bags, hats, cuffs and coats from the fur and McCree also makes jewellery from the teeth. The designs will be on display at a fashion show in New York in November.
McCree said: “It is only guilt free fur if it is certified Louisiana pelts harvested as part of the pest control programme. It is a colossal waste if the animals are being killed anyway. Nutria should not die in vain. This is a giant recycling project.”
The aim is to increase the worth of nutria encouraging more people to take part in the control problem. A previous project to create a market for nutria as a gourmet food didn’t take off.
McCree said: “If this project is successful it will eradicate itself but that would be a long way down the road. We are not in the business of spawning a bunch of nutria farms.”
Whether a new generation of trappers are up to the job of controlling the nutria will depend partly on demand for Righteous Fur’s designs.
See more photos from the bayou here.