First, the facts: this week, armed agents of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stormed a house in the Bucktown section of Metairie attempting to seize a family’s unusual pet. Via its own press release…
A family’s pet nutria is set to be removed from the home of a New Orleans couple and moved to the Baton Rouge Zoo to be part of an educational exhibit, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced Thursday.
It is illegal to have a wild animal as a pet, especially a nutria, which is an invasive species and could be a source of health issues.
LDWF discovered the existence of the pet nutria after stories about the animal appeared this week in New Orleans area media. Once the status was made public, the department recommended its removal. The department also started communications with the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission which operates the Baton Rouge Zoo, to find a means of saving the animal.
BREC and Zoo officials agreed Thursday to accept the animal.
After those arrangements were completed, LDWF agents contacted the owners and told them that the animal will be removed and that arrangements have been made with the BR Zoo. In most cases, the animal would be placed back into the wild. However, LDWF biologists and Zoo officials said that because the animal has been habituated to humans, it would not be able to survive in the wild.
It is well known in Louisiana that nutria causes extensive damage to wetlands, agricultural crops, and structural foundations, including roads and dikes. They may also threaten human health and safety and serve as a reservoir for several diseases.
It is against the law in Louisiana to possess injured or orphaned mammals without an LDWF Rehabilitation permit, even if there is a plan to release them. It is illegal to possess wildlife as a pet or for the pet trade. There is no permit for this activity, and no permit will be issued for it.
In a statement issued Thursday, Zoo officials said it “plans to take in the nutria into our animal family after a short stint at a rehabilitation facility…The nutria will join our Ambassador Animal Program.
“The Zoo has another male nutria that’s already a part of the ambassador animal program, so the two will eventually be acclimated and brought together. As social animals, the nutria should be comfortably at ease and enjoy this exposure to another animal of the same species.
“The Zoo’s professional staff will care for the nutria as they would all other animals within their skilled care and looks forward to bringing a new member into the zoo animal family.”
LDWF appreciates the owner’s affection for the animal and their understanding of the rules regarding its removal. LDWF discourages the public from housing wild animals as pets.
Here’s what happened: Dylan Lacoste, whose family owns Dennis’ Seafood restaurant in Bucktown, found Neuty, who at the time was a baby nutria, in the middle of West Esplanade Avenue back in December of 2020. The Lacostes nursed the swamp rat back to health and he’s become a beloved pet and a pal of the family’s dogs, as well as a minor Bucktown and TikTok celebrity.
But DWF decided they couldn’t handle the idea of a pet nutria in Louisiana, so the all-too-common state practice of ignoring laws they’re supposed to enforce got tossed out of the window in this case. In came the stormtroopers to snatch Neuty – who’s now on the lam.
Yes, nutria are an invasive species. Yes, it’s less than a good idea for it to become common that Louisianans keep them as pets.
They’re not lions or grizzly bears or Black Widow spiders, though. And this particular nutria, which is not a wild animal having been raised as a pet from a baby, isn’t doing any damage to the marshlands of Bucktown.
So we’re going to have our tax dollars wasted because some bureaucrat at LDWF is going to dispatch game-warden cops and lawyers to harass this family for the crime of taking care of an animal they saved in a roadway.
It really wouldn’t have been that hard to just issue the stupid permit and put out the word that selling nutria as pets is illegal and having them as pets requires a permit which isn’t easily obtained. Or don’t give a permit and just leave these people alone.
Doesn’t the Lt. Governor pardon crawfish every year or something stupid like that? Can’t Gov. John Bel Edwards take time out of his busy schedule promoting useless Green New Deal carbon capture projects or expanding welfare fraud through the Medicaid program to pardon Neuty?
The whole thing is absurd. There are no cops patrolling I-10 in New Orleans, and some 30 people have been shot on that roadway in the last two years, but Neuty the Nutria has to become a law enforcement target. The
But this is what happens when you have morons in charge of an overweening government, which is what LDWF has.
The secretary of LDWF is Jack Montoucet, a hack Democrat who spent two and a half terms as a state representative in the Lafayette area, in a seat currently held by John Stefanski before Edwards put him in his current post after getting rid of Charlie Melancon. Montoucet’s deputy is another hack politician, the Ruston RINO Republican Rob Shadoin who’s graced the Hayride’s pages more than once. This brain trust can’t help but make themselves relevant to ordinary life in Louisiana by sending stormtroopers after suburban pets and using your tax dollars to do it.
Here’s hoping that sanity prevails and LDWF finds something better to do. As for the Lacostes, one wonders if they’d shown up on Edwards’ campaign donor lists whether they’d be having this problem.