POSTED: Saturday, July 14, 2012 - 6:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, July 14, 2012 - 9:36am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS (NBC33) — "Dogs love it. It's like doggie crack," giggles Hansel Harlan.
Harlan, the owner of Marsh Dog and Barataria Bits dreamt of a doggie treat decades ago that not only makes dogs salivate, but helps protect our wetlands. In May, Barataria Bites was born. It's a dog biscuit using nutria meat!
"Nutria on average they weigh about 20 lbs. They eat about 25 percent of their body weight a day. They reproduce prolifically. If there's no natural check on their population it can really explode."
Every 45 minutes Louisiana loses wetlands at the rate of one football field, and nutria make up a big part of the problem, munching away at our wetlands.
"You just see this trail of destruction that they leave behind of sort of raw exposed ground."
Currently the state spends close to $1.5-Million a year paying licensed trappers to kill nutria. Harlan hopes to make a dent in their population by developing a market for the rodent. He plans to fill the void the once booming nutria fur industry left behind with yummy doggie treats.
"It tastes kind of spicy because it's got cayenne pepper in it which is good for a dog's circulation. Not that I would know what a dog treat tastes like, but it doesn't taste like what you think a dog treat would taste like."
This year they used about 150 nutria. The reception has been so go that next year they plan to use 10 times the amount of meat. Harlan says for the next batch, "We may have 10,000lbs of nutria meat on the premises."
Barataria Bites are already in New Orleans and the treats are making their way to Houma next.