U.S. Federal Program Funds the Use of Nutria Fur as “Eco-Fashion”

nutria, animal cruelty, fur, National Resources Defense Council, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

Photo by Alessandro Musicorio

Why waste it when you can wear it? For Michael Massimi, the invasive-species coordinator at the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Progream (BTNEP), morphing nutria fur into a fashion “must-have” was a natural response to the invading critters. A semi-aquatic rodent indigenous to South America, nutria (Myocastor coypus) was imported to Louisiana in the 1930s for the fur-farming industry. After being released—whether intentionally or accidentally—into the wild, they’ve damaged coastal wetlands with their voracious appetites. Massimi’s role under the BTNEP, one of 28 programs established by Congress through the Clean Water Act, is to preserve Louisiana’s coastal vegetation and ecosystem. His No. 1 priority? Culling the nutria.

So, is nutria fur haute or not?

  • 371 Votes Hell no! Fur is wrong. Period. It belongs on animals, not people.
  • 59 Votes Hell yes! The critters are going to be killed anyway, so why waste their fuzzy pelts?
  • 21 Votes Don't know. Who's to say the "good" fur won't pave the way for "bad" fur farms?

Total Voters: 451

nutria, animal cruelty, fur, National Resources Defense Council, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

Photo by pelican

ANIMAL CONTROL

Deemed a swamp rat, the rodents have become so pervasive that they are being killed under government programs to reduce their numbers. Massimi recognized the unsustainable realities of this system, so he suggested that New Orleans fashion designer and environmentalist Cree McCree use nutria as an ethical way of curbing their overpopulation. With a $4,500 grant from his organization, Massimi helped McCree jumpstart her new fashion venture: Righteous Fur.

Fashion designer and environmentalist Cree McCree promotes nutria as the “guilt-free and eco-friendly” alternative to mainstream fur.

Nutria made its mark on the runway in November at a Brooklyn fashion show put on by Righteous Fur. Promoting nutria as the “guilt-free and eco-friendly” alternative to mainstream fur, McCree has established a unique position within the green and animal-rights movements, forcing fellow “sustainable fashionistas” to question their ethics.

Mainstream designers have even jumped onboard the trend lately, with Oscar de la RentaBilly Reid, and Michael Kors all integrating nutria furs into their collections. As Greta Garbo’s former fur of choice, the direction this trend could take gives us pause. Largely, if the “nutria look” takes the fashion world by storm, the animals will eventually have to be bred to keep up with the demand. Then, where are the morals of this supposed solution?

Says Massimi in the Spring 2011 issue of OnEarth: “Frankly, that’s a problem I would love to have.”

+ OnEarth

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16 Responses to “U.S. Federal Program Funds the Use of Nutria Fur as “Eco-Fashion””

  1. Madravenspeak says:

    I lived in Louisiana where Nutria are demonized. They are just like beavers and otters and other beautiful peaceful animals – unlike humans who treat every life form as a commodity and come from the utilitarian model – if we can profit from killing – go for it. NO KILLING OF NUTRIA FOR ALL THE OBSCENE REASONS PEOPLE THINK UP TO KILL LIFE ON OUR PLANET. YOU will be dead soon enough – have a little grace and empathy for other life.

  2. Suzyq2 says:

    Killing animals for fur is always wrong and always cruel and painful to the animal. It is complete unnecessary!

  3. Jean Mollack says:

    The nutria should be allowed to live their lives in the swamps of Louisiana , harming no one and having a peaceful existance. Jean Mollack

  4. Exxtremitie says:

    1. Fur is sustainable and green compared to the most popular other way to stay warm in winter, nylon. Nylon is a petrohemical, and I’m sure if you traced the entire life cycle of a nylon coat, you would find entire species being wiped out, not just individual animals. To protest fur and not nylon is irrational and emotionally motivated.
    2. Any manufacturer that claims their fur is green or sustainable needs to prove on every label that no toxic(in manufacture, use, or disposal) chemicals have been used to process the hides.
    3. The meat should not be wasted either. It would make good pet food.

  5. beeman says:

    If $20 bills were made in an environmentally friendly way, would you pick it up off the side of the road? I would. In fact I pick up about 20/year. Fox, raccoon, coyote, mink–they are all worth about $20 at right time of year when they are laying dead on the side of the road–attracting still more animals to their deaths if left lying there. I know lots of other people who pick them up as well if they are not badly damaged. I don’t see the intelligence in leaving things to rot, or in using synthetics instead of natural fibers.

    Several have said these nutria harm nothing out in the swamps, which is like saying that the brown tree snake harms nothing on the Carribian or Pacific islands. They both are or will do harm in any place where there is no natural balance to keep them from harming the native wildlife/flora/fauna. Like Exxtremitie said, just make sure to use them like Native Americans where it does not go to waste and toxicchemicals are not used to process them.

  6. SuS says:

    Disgusting, cruel, sad. The fact that taxpayer money is funding fur makes me want to cry even more.

  7. Ethical one. says:

    Fur is not green. It takes a lot of energy to gather them, process them and ship them.

    Edited by moderator for incendiary language

  8. thegopherguy says:

    Furbearers are a natural renewable resource that need to be managed in order to be disease or damage free. Trappers and other fur harvesters do this extreamly well. They use the animals to their full extent. That being said, the government should not be involved this process. As soon as they do, the process becomes inefficient and wastefull, not to mention so highly regulated that fur harvesters soon stop managing the animals. When this happens, the exact opposite result is achieved. The animals are no longer managed well, so populations explode leading to disease and damage.

  9. Jill Fehrenbacher (@jillfehr) says:

    Ecouterre readers- check this out: http://trapperman.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2488414/1.html

    The trapping community is apparently attempting to rig this poll to try to convince people that skinning animals is somehow morally ok. If you feel otherwise, let us know in the comments!

    -Jill
    Editor @ Ecouterre

  10. Trapper258 says:

    I think Nutria should be use for fur and keep regulated in these swamps to keep numbers at a control level. Not to wipe them out completely. Like beavers and otters, nutria can destroy crops which people eat and swamps and like where fish and other animals live.
    I have trapped beavers and have seen the damage they can cause to the envoriment which you all say you love so much. It you loved the world so much you would see that these animals are only doing hurt not help.
    Take the beaver, in the 1930′s the beaver population was very low but now the beaver population is over run, and that is why we trap them. Not for game or for money, because you don’t get much for fur any more, but for control and to stop them from spreading their poison, and from damaging more habitat that you all say you love so much.
    That is why I think we should be able to keep trapping and keep their fur.

    P.S. using fur is better than letting it rot away on the road or in a field. If you saw a $5 bill next to the road you wouldn’t just leave it and make sure no one would pick up would you?
    You would probably pick it up and go on your way.

    Edited by moderator for incendiary language

  11. TRAPPER MAN says:

    Wild fur is a renewable resource.

  12. watermann says:

    I’m a animal lover too ,but we need trapping to control animal populations . Otherwise the surplus gets exterminated and left to rot by farmers and town highway departments . Fur is a green renewable resourse that provides work for Americans . Watermann.

  13. Ethical one. says:

    The fur ads you might see in magazines and commercials portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance. But these ads fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths.

    Millions of fur-bearing animals including foxes, raccoons, minks, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others are killed each year on fur farms by anal and vaginal electrocution and in the wild by drowning, trapping, or beating.

    To kill the animals without damaging their fur, trappers usually strangle, beat, or stomp them to death. Animals on fur farms may be gassed, electrocuted, poisoned with strychnine, or have their necks snapped. These methods are not 100 percent effective and some animals “wake up” while being skinned.

    Cruelty is not green.

    Edited by moderator for incendiary language

  14. santinobee says:

    This paves the way for more cruelty.

  15. santinobee says:

    And not to mention the processing chemicals used for fur too…

  16. tallshoes says:

    If there is no other way to humanely control the population, then the humane usage of Nutria for fur would be okay, I think, and better if we could find a way to use the entire animal.

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