Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lynn Morris
Everyone knows that wearing fur is wrong. But what if the fur came from a highly destructive invasive species being culled anyway as part of state sponsored control program?
A project in Louisiana has come up with a range of “˜guilt free fur’ from swamp rats. Nutria, otherwise known as swamp rats, do huge amounts of damage to the ecosystems around New Orleans. They use their massive front teeth to dig up plants by their roots creating holes in the levees hastening coastal erosion. If there is one thing Louisiana doesn’t need it is more coastal erosion.
New Orleans based Righteous Fur aims to help the state sponsored control program along by creating a high fashion market for nutria fur, with the slogan “˜Save our wetlands, wear more nutria’.
Cree McCree who set up the project in 2008 believes it’s wrong not to use animals that are culled.
She said: “About half a million nutria were killed last year but just two percent of the pelts were used. It is a colossal waste if the animals are being killed anyway. Nutria should not die in vain.”
But she does not think wearing any old nutria fur is ok. She said: “It is only guilt free fur if it is certified Louisiana pelts harvested as part of the pest control program.”
McCree calls her work “˜a giant recycling project’ and has commissioned designers to create bags, cuffs, hats and coats with the pelts. She also uses Balinese silver to make jewelery from nutria teeth.
She aims to create a fashion demand for the fur, increasing the value of nutria pelts encouraging more people to take part in the control program eventually reducing the population of nutria in the area. At the moment the state pays a bounty of $5 per nutria tail.
McCree said: “If this project is successful it will eradicate itself but that would be a long way down the road. We are not in the business of spawning a bunch of nutria farms.”
Nutria used to be used in clothing and was fashionable from the end of the Second World War to the mid 1970s, worn by fashion icons including Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo. Nutria were introduced to Louisiana for fur farms in the 1930s but some escaped into the wild.
There have been other attempts to create a market for nutria including an unsuccessful effort to turn it into a gourmet food.
Righteous Fur’s designs will be on show in New York on November 21 at House of Yes in Brooklyn. The Righteous Fur design collective will also be selling their wares at Brooklyn Flea in New York on November 20.
People not in New York City will have to wait a little while but the pieces will soon be available to buy through Righteous Fur’s website.