State Says Louisiana Family Must Give Up Their Beloved Pet Nutria

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana couple broke state law by keeping a 22-pound nutria — a protruding-eyed, orange-toothed, rat-tailed rodent commonly considered a wetland pest — like a pet that frolics with their dog, snuggles in his arms and swims in the family pool.

Denny and Myra Lacoste told New Orleans media they were devastated by the potential loss of ‘Neuty’, a pet they say they raised from childhood when his siblings were killed in the circulation. The ruling by state wildlife and fisheries officials, who say it’s illegal to keep an orphaned or injured wild animal as a pet, has sparked a petition from those who want it stays with the humans who raised him.

The state wildlife department said the plan was to house Neuty at the Baton Rouge Zoo. But we don’t know when that will happen. A ministry statement Friday said officials went to remove the pet from Lacoste’s residence in the New Orleans area on Thursday.

“The nutria was not at the residence when officers arrived,” the department said. “The case is still ongoing.”

The nutria was introduced to North America over a century ago and is considered a harmful invasive species in Louisiana. Their appetite for wetland vegetation and their burial in levees hinder flood control, harm agriculture and contribute to the loss of coastal wetlands. On several occasions, officials put bounties on them and encouraged their hunting for their skins and even for their food.

They are sometimes referred to as “nutria rats”. Yet they’ve also become such a familiar part of the Louisiana landscape and lore that a minor league baseball team in New Orleans once employed costumed actors as larger-than-life caricatures of the creatures as mascots. – Boudreaux and Clotilde.

Neuty was a toddler when Denny Lacoste, who runs a family seafood restaurant, rescued him from a road by a canal more than two years ago. Lacoste told New Orleans media that the baby animal’s siblings were killed by traffic.

Now the animal is a social media star, featured in TikTok videos and seen in a New Orleans Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate video lovingly held by Denny Lacoste, scampering around on a floor with a towel and chewing on a crawfish raw . Lacoste told the newspaper that Neuty even liked to get in the car with his head out the window.

The Baton Rouge Zoo said it was ready to give Neuty a home in an area with another male nutria. “In most cases, the animal would have been returned to the wild. However, LDWF biologists and zoo officials said that since the animal has been habituated to humans, it could not survive in the wild,” the wildlife department said.


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