FRANKLIN, La. (AP) — Nutria — the large, semi-aquatic rodents native to South America — have become so invasive in Louisiana that the state wants them shot on sight, offering a $6 bounty for their tails. But the culling has to be done correctly, and animal abuse is a crime.
A Louisiana man has been arrested for allegedly cutting the tails off live nutria and then releasing the injured animals back into the wild. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said in a news release that agents were told Monday about videos showing the abuse on social media.
They show the 45-year-old man from Patterson using a hook to catch a nutria and then severing the rodent's tail before letting it go. Agents found multiple similar videos, including images where the man taught a minor how to remove the tail while keeping the nutria alive, the department said.
It's unclear why the man didn't kill the nutria, which cause widespread marsh damage on Louisiana's coast, The Advocate reported. The animals must be shot, not gaffed or speared. Using pitchforks, bows and arrows, and similar weapons also is not allowed.
The man was arrested the next day on charges of aggravated animal cruelty, illegal hunting and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. He was fined $50, for failing to provide the juvenile with a personal flotation device while on his boat. Agents seized his Nutria Control Program permit and cell phone as part of the investigation.
Penalties for cruelty to animals include a fine of $5,000 to $25,000 and up to 10 years in jail. Contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile carries a fine of up $1,000 and six months in jail. The illegal hunting charge could add another $950 fine and 120 days in jail.