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Swamp rat is an invasive species doing serious damage to the ecosystem around New Orleans

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Atlantic Rising: creating a fashion for guilt-free fur

Lynn Morris

11th October, 2010

Can fashion fur be guilt free? A project in Louisiana believes the answer is yes - if you are wearing swamp rat

Nutria, also known as swamp rat, is an invasive species doing serious damage to the ecosystem around New Orleans. They use their massive front teeth to dig up plants by their roots, destroying marsh grasses and burrowing into the bayou sides. It’s the first step towards coastal erosion.

Nutria’s only predator is the alligator but there are not enough of them to keep the population under control. Louisiana state has a control programme offering a bounty of $5 per nutria tail, and this year almost half a million of the animals were killed.

However, only two percent of the culled nutria were utilised and the rest discarded.

A fashion project called Righteous Fur was set up to use the pelts with the slogan ‘Save our wetlands, wear more nutria’.

Cree McCree who established the project said: 'I think it is kind of criminal not to use the nutria.' Righteous Fur’s designers have made bags, hats, cuffs and coats from the fur and McCree also makes jewellery from the teeth. The designs will be on display at a fashion show in New York in November.

McCree said: 'It is only guilt free fur if it is certified Louisiana pelts harvested as part of the pest control programme.

'It is a colossal waste if the animals are being killed anyway. Nutria should not die in vain. This is a giant recycling project.'

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