Nutria Festival Showcases New Uses for Louisiana’s Most-Infamous Rodent

By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation

A woman models a nutria fur hat and dress at Nutria-palooza on the Bayou. (Photo credit: Amanda Moore, NWF)

Nutria. Marsh-muncher. Coypu. Swamp rat. “That critter with the big orange teeth.” Call it what you want, but this invasive, semi-aquatic rodent has been dining on Louisiana’s precious wetlands since the 1930s. And although the State of Louisiana pays a bounty of five dollars per tail, nutria still managed to destroy over 6,000 acres of Louisiana wetlands last year alone.

So on November 5th, Righteous Fur celebrated its 3rd annual “Nutria-Palooza! on the Bayou” in Lafayette, where fun-loving folks dined on nutria and stocked their closets with furry wear. A main purpose of the event—besides helping to control an invasive species—is to raise awareness about the need to restore Louisiana’s coast.

Michael Massimi of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (the organization receives a portion of all proceeds from the sale of Righteous Fur) gave an opening presentation on the swamp rat, and then we let the good times roll with local musicians—including MC Sweet Tea—and the highlight of the night: a nutria fur fashion show!

Eighteen designers dazzled the crowd of 100 with numerous one-of-a-kind furry ensembles. A silent auction closed out the night, at which National Wildlife Federation’s Alisha Renfro added a fur hat to her wardrobe, and Coalition the Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Morgan Crutcher bought a nutria-trimmed dress that will win any Mardi Gras costume contest.

Models show off nutria fur creations at Nutria-palooza.

“If you can’t eat ’em, wear ’em!” said Crutcher. “Since we began measuring in 1998, the number of observed acreage damaged or destroyed by nutria peaked in 1999 at 27,356, or 43 square miles. That’s just the observed figure—these  little guys can do a lot of damage!”

To see more photos from the fashion show and to find out how you, too, can wear nutria fur and help save Louisiana’s wetlands, check out!