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Louisiana Is Paying $6 for Every Swamp Rodent You Can Kill

And there are hundreds of thousands of them.

by Dexter Thomas
Mar 10 2020, 4:57pm

BELLE CHASSE, Louisiana — If you know how to shoot, the Louisiana state government has a favor to ask: Help us kill 400,000 swamp rodents this year. And get paid for it.

The state is offering 6 bucks a pop, and you can keep the meat and make burritos if you like.

The target is an invasive species called nutria — large, rat-like rodents with orange teeth — that are wreaking havoc with the state's ecosystems. They were first introduced to Louisiana in the 1930s as a source of fur. But when the fur market collapsed in the 1980s, the nutria started to breed out of control.

This wouldn't be much of a problem if it weren't for their feeding habits. The marshland ecosystems in Louisiana depend on plants that not only provide natural filtration for water but actually hold the land together, and can help prevent flooding.

Nutria like to eat the roots of those plants, and when they do, the marshland can erode away. State officials estimate that nutria damaged around 14,000 acres last year.

There's no way to completely eradicate them. They can, however, be controlled — by hunting them down.

And, it turns out, they make a pretty decent burrito.

VICE News traveled to the Bayou to see what it's like to make a living — and maybe a meal — out of Louisiana's most wanted rodent.

Cover: VICE News Tonight/VICE TV.

Tagged:
Invasive species
Nutria