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phaedryx's avatar

Nutria fur: animal rights vs. environmentalism. Can there be "guilt-free" fur?

Asked by phaedryx (6118points) December 29th, 2010

At Nutria Palooza they advocate using nutria fur in clothing and fashion. The idea is that if the market demand goes up, more people will hunt/trap the animals, which are destroying the Louisiana ecosystem.

some articles:

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23 Answers

everephebe's avatar

Second hand fur.

marinelife's avatar

A demand for fur causes a demand for rare fur.

Coloma's avatar

I know Nutrias originally escaped during flooding conditions in the last century. They were kept for fur (meat too? ) at that time.

Anyway…WHY now?
After 100 years or more of being an invasive species.

I think humane culling is preferable to the fur trade.

I wouldn’t wear fur of any kind, and I think with todays awareness and attitudes it would be hard to manufacture Nutria fur as a fashion item.

I wouldn’t be a consumer and don’t know anyone that would.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

If people buy into their spin, that’s ridiculous. This is for the rich who want to (and mostly don’t care) about wearing fur in general, but only don’t do it because it “looks bad”. If they have a way to wear fur, that’s all they’ll care about. It won’t really matter to anyone who buys this kind of fur that they’re helping the environment, or that they’re only wearing this fur “because these little dudes are detrimental to the environment”.

Even if people can be duped into their spin on the matter, it’s still not guilt-free for anyone with a heart. The reason they’re having problems with the rodent in the first place is because people released them into the wild when they were originally brought over for fur farming. Anyone who buys the fur isn’t doing it to help the environment – they’re buying fur to buy fur. And you’re still killing an animal just for the fur, and to turn a profit.

Eradicating some of them might be necessary, and it probably would help the environment. But seriously? Call a spade a spade.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Also: They’re trying to make wearing fur fashionable again. What happens when they run out of this animal? Not a good thing.

everephebe's avatar

I’ve always wanted to get a second hand fur coat and paint a red stripe on the back. Kind of a Quid pro quo, fashion statement.

I think if an animal dies or is killed the whole animal should be put to use. All animals die, speeding them on their way isn’t necessary or nice.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

There’s no such thing as guilt free fur because somewhere along the line, an animal is being killed to fill an order. Maybe the order starts out as food for omnivores and carnivores and the hides/pelts used for stuff which is probably ok with omnivores and carnivores but not okay with anyone against the killing and/or eating of animals.

The nutria would be an exploited species the very minute using them up in order to get them out of the environment turned profitable and marketable.

Me, I like to wear 2nd hand or vintage furs but don’t support the killing and processing of new fur products.

crisw's avatar

Besides being cruel, won’t work.

First of all, given the high reproductive rate of nutria, and the compensative natality most rodent species exhibit (having larger litters, breeding more often, breeding at a younger age) it’s likely that it won’t make a dent in nutria populations. And, if it did, you can bet those making a profit would not allow the cash flow to stop by killing all the nutria.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Wait, how is this guilt-free fur again? It’s idiotic to think that being anti-fur is about the fur itself so obviously no environmentalist would support this.

jlelandg's avatar

Wasn’t George’s had made of nutria? All for selling Nutria fur.

Smashley's avatar

Wow. @Neizvestnaya: but wearing second hand fur is supporting the killing and processing of new fur products. You are advertising fur, you are paying money for it, you are giving the heap of dead animal fur a value. Sure you aren’t paying the producers of the fur directly, but neither is someone who buys it new from a store. You are both a part of a long chain of demand and a propagation of a style.

phaedryx's avatar

To play devil’s advocate for a bit:

This is the same Louisiana that was hit by a hurricane and an oil spill. The one with a struggling economy. This would bring money to the state.

The government is already paying for each nutria tail that is brought in. Why not also sell the pelt of the already dead animal?

They are also called “swamp rats.” Is it as bad to use animals that are regarded as vermin?

You can read more about them here. Some excerpts:

”...Nutria burrows can also
damage flood control levees that protect low-lying areas; weaken the foundations of reservoir dams, buildings, and roadbeds; and erode the banks of streams, lakes, and ditches…”

”...Nutria damage, however, is not limited to burrow- ing. Depredation on crops is well documented. In the United States, sugarcane and rice are the pri- mary crops damaged by the nutria. Grazing on rice plants can significantly reduce yields, and damage can be severe in localized areas. Other crops dam- aged by the nutria, include corn, milo, sugar and table beets, alfalfa, wheat, barley, oats, peanuts, various melons, and a variety of vegetables. This depredation can lead to significant losses, especially for small farmers….”

”...the negative impact this invasive species has on native vegetation and associ- ated wetlands. In Louisiana, some nutria feed on seedling baldcypress with such intensity that the trees cannot survive. Similarly, nutria can severely damage coastal marshes by decimating native plants that hold marsh soils together and support the survival of native wildlife species. The impact of nutria on disappearing marshlands along the Gulf Coast has been well docu- mented for several years, and more recently in the Delmarva marshes along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In some cases, nutria damage to marsh vegetation and soils is so severe that these resources are permanently lost. The destruction of these marsh- lands also increases the vulnerability of adjacent upland sites to erosion and flooding during storms….”

These animals aren’t farmed, they aren’t caged; they live their entire lives in the wild.

rooeytoo's avatar

Are the folks who are so opposed to wearing fur wearing any leather shoes, belts, etc. ?

I don’t see much difference between eating or wearing. It is using all parts of the creature. Waste not, want not, isn’t that how the saying goes.

If a creature lives well and is killed quickly and humanely, it is just the way life goes, somedays you’re the windshield, somedays the bug.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@phaedryx Yes, they have a struggling economy, and yes, it would probably help bring income to the state. However, why lie? Why try to act like it’s going to make a huge, beneficial impact on the environment when it probably won’t? It’s a ploy, a lie, to get people to buy fur. So they feel okay with it. So the state can earn money. If anything, they should just be honest about it.

People are the reason there’s such an overpopulation problem with the animals to begin with. They probably won’t be able to get the numbers under control, thus the animals will become an unending source of income for the state. Which is exactly why I said “Call a spade, a spade”.

And there will still be animal suffering. How are they killed? How do people know they won’t be farmed? Will babies remain in the wild? How many of those babies will lose their mothers? How many of the babies will starve because of that?

I’m not even a vegetarian (though I’m admittedly thinking about becoming one, again) – I simply see the lies they spin to make their actions more acceptable to the general public. I agree that if an animal is killed, every part of it should be used – but how many people are going to eat the nutria meat? They are being killed specifically for their fur. At least people kill cows and eat them. They aren’t killed specifically to make a fashion statement.

OpryLeigh's avatar

If fur is for fashion then it can never be guilt free unless it’s 100% fake.

cheebdragon's avatar

Is roadkill considered guilt free?

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, fur of animals with a growing overpopulation and no natural predators.

phaedryx's avatar

@Leanne1986 fake fur comes from petroleum

Smashley's avatar

Anything is guilt free if you don’t care.

What this whole fluther debate is coming down to is silly, and there is little consistency in morality going on.

The campaign is tapping into people’s hatred of fur by saying “fur isn’t murder if the bastard had it coming.” It appeals to anti-fur elements by justifying fur under these specific circumstances.

Though some protest could be made on a humane level about the treatment of fur-bred animals, these issues could be resolved without ending fur-breeding. So the “humane treatment” morality doesn’t hold with this promotion. You are killing animals, so the PeTA approach doesn’t work. You are saying something is wrong with the fur industry, so the “I-don’t-fucking-care-about-animals” position isn’t applicable. The only argument that is really left is that it is wrong to kill an animal specifically for the purpose of wearing them.

This is a little odd. I’m sure it makes no difference to the animal why you’re killing it; it objects to the whole concept.

The idea behind this kind fur-promotion is then wrongheaded. Normal fur is bad, but this fur is good, because we friggin’ hate these animals. If you object to all forms of animal death, then this is akin to justified genocide. If you are in between, and are just against fashion as a reason for animal death, then this type of promotion does you no justice, since it promotes the entire fur industry. If you wear fur: roadkilled, borrowed, fake, self-trapped, second-hand, any fur, you are an active part of the fur industry. You are showing your support for it as good fashion, and you are creating demand, both for cheap Nutria pelts, as well as sexier animals, like the mink. What happens if the Nutria goes extinct in the wild? Whoops! Sorry folks, I know you loved those little buggers, but there aren’t any more guilt-free ones. We do have some farmed ones though….

If you don’t give two shits about animals dying for the whims of humans, then it doesn’t make a difference, you wanted cheap, sexy, Nutria pelts anyways.

The argument made by the promotion is closest to this last stance. There is nothing wrong with the fur industry, but by promoting our cool, new, cheap, Nutria fur coats, we will encourage people to go out and kill them without using government resources to kill them for us. The “guilt-free” argument is pure rationalization.

It’s not guilt-free, if fur makes you feel guilty.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Smashley: I hear you. I also eat meat and would raise food animals if I could. We all split hairs over something but you’re right and I said it already, there is no “guilt free” fur, not anything really anymore.

crisw's avatar


“Though some protest could be made on a humane level about the treatment of fur-bred animals, these issues could be resolved without ending fur-breeding. ”

No, they couldn’t, because an animal still has to be killed in order to produce a fur coat. And it is certainly morally consistent to oppose killing animals when it isn’t absolutely necessary.

Coloma's avatar

I live in wine country, what about coats made of fermented grape castings.

It would save a lot of drunk blackbirds and, in turn, a lot of drunk hawks.

Smashley's avatar

@crisw: if I wasn’t clear, what I was describing there was one common moral stance about the use of animals for our amusement (food, fur, sport, etc). That killing an animal is OK, but to give it a life of suffering is not OK. I did a lot of editing on this post, and I may have muddled two thoughts. My intention in mentioning the “humane treatment” argument was that it is a somewhat common moral stance. It could be said by some that wearing fur is acceptable, because an animal does not have an innate right to life, but there is a moral imperative to preventing animal suffering during their lives, and since the fur industry treats its animals poorly, it is more acceptable to buy the fur of the nutria, who live happily until their quick death.

By pointing out that poor animal treatment is not inextricable from the fur-farming industry, I was showing that this take on morality is not consistent with the stated morality of the nutria promotion. Of course they still die, but the morality I was describing is concerned with suffering, not death.

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