Neuty, a rescued pet nutria, will be seized by Louisiana agents | Entertainment/Life


Louisiana Wildlife and Fish Officers plan to confiscate a Bucktown couple’s nutria because it is illegal to own one, the owners said Thursday.

Two years ago, Neuty was a feral child who lived in the West Esplanade Avenue canal. When the palm-sized animal was injured crossing the road, Bucktown residents Denny and Myra Lacoste rescued the motherless creature and nursed it back to health.

Over time, Neuty, part of an invasive species that is exacerbating erosion in Louisiana wetlands, has become a pet. Neuty swims in the Lacostes’ pool, rides in the family car with his head out the window like a beagle, sleeps in a bathroom at their home, and accompanies Denny Lacoste to the seafood store he owns near Clearview Parkway.

On Wednesday, reports in The Times-Picayune and on WWL-TV reported on the Lacostes’ relationship with the rodent, which now weighs 22 pounds.

The Lacostes said wildlife and fisheries officers arrived at the seafood store around 4 p.m. Thursday, but the couple’s son took the orange-toothed rat for a spin. Dennis Lacoste said he received a ticket for “possession of a wild quadruped without a license” and instructions to return the animal as soon as possible.

What he had planned to do.

He said he didn’t know keeping a nutria as a pet was illegal. He said that when he first brought the injured creature home, he contacted wildlife and fisheries and was told keeping a nutria was not advised but not illegal.

Bucktown’s Denny Lacoste rescued an injured baby nutria two years ago and named him Neuty. Now Neuty is a pampered pet who weighs 22 pounds and goes to work with Lacoste.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said the nutria would be sent to the Baton Rouge Zoo, to be part of an educational exhibit.

“In most cases, the animal would have been returned to the wild,” the agency said in a statement. “However, LDWF biologists and zoo officials said that since the animal was habituated to humans, it could not survive in the wild.


“Coypu are well known in Louisiana to cause significant damage to wetlands, agricultural crops, and structural foundations, including roads and levees. They can also threaten human health and safety and serve as a reservoir for several diseases.

“It is illegal in Louisiana to own injured or orphaned mammals without an LDWF rehabilitation permit, even if there is a plan to release them. It is illegal to own wild animals as pets or for the pet trade. There is no permit for this activity, and no permit will be issued for this activity.

“Social Animals”

The Baton Rouge Zoo, in a statement relayed by Wildlife and Fisheries, said: “The zoo has another male nutria who is already part of the animal ambassador program, so the two will eventually be acclimatized and reunited. As social animals, nutria should be comfortable and enjoy this exposure to another animal of the same species.”

At 5:30 p.m., two armed wildlife and fisheries officers, dressed in military-style fatigues, arrived at the Lacoste home. But after 45 minutes, Neuty had not arrived.

Myra Lacoste’s voice shook slightly as she expressed her fear for a domesticated Neuty going to the zoo. Leaning against the couple’s van in the driveway, she repeatedly claimed that they believed they had followed the rules of Jefferson Parish and would not have engaged in illegal activity.


Neuty the pet nutria attempted a seizure

Myra Lacoste wipes away tears as she and her husband, Denny, confront Louisiana wildlife and fisheries officers seeking to seize their pet nutria, Neuty, at their home in Bucktown on Thursday, March 16, 2023 .

As the sun set, the two officers told the Lacostes they planned to leave, but expected to be called quickly when the couple’s son returned with the pet.

“We give you plenty of opportunities to produce nutria,” said one of the agents. “We feel like we’ve been completely respectful of this whole process. But we’re not leaving, okay?

“Prolonging the process,” the officer said, could prompt further legal action.

NOTE: Earlier versions of this article, based on a statement from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the agency seized Neuty on Thursday. The agency later changed its statement to say the creature “must be removed.”

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