Monday, November 16, 2009
A Nutria Trap Line by Bicycle
This is a video of a bicycle trapping workshop that I led last winter through TrackersNW of Portland. As discussed in my last posting, I ran the same workshop last week. Participants came along on a bicycle trap line for nutria. A trap line is simply a bunch of traps set in a variety of locations by a trapper to catch fur-bearing animals. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has a specific list of what animals are considered fur bearers and are legal to trap. Some of these animals, such as nutria, have an open season for trapping, meaning they can be trapped anytime of year. This is because of some of the reasons I described in my last post.
We caught two nutria at one of the two urban farms I set traps at. (I would like to emphasize that I was the only one setting the traps because I was the only one with a valid furtaker's license. ODFW requires that a person study a packet of info and pass a written test in order to be issued a furtaker's license.) We then returned with our catch and skinned them, prepared the hides for tanning and butchered the carcass and cooked up a bit of the meat. Most folks seemed pleasantly surprised at the "chicken- like" taste of the meat. I have been asked, and often wondered myself, whether the meat from these critters is clean enough to eat being that they are semi-aquatic and spend much time in Johnson Creek, which isn't known for being clean. My opinion is this: Eating a bit of this now and then can't be too harmful because the nutria are feeding mainly on clean organic crops and grasses at the farm where they reside. They are not eating fish and so, I assume, are not bioaccumulating toxins the way tuna, salmon and other seafood (that folks pay top dollar for) does. I would like to find someone who could do the research to see what toxins may be present in urban animals such as, nutria, raccoon, opossum and squirrel. These mammals are plentiful in Portland and sometimes even overpopulated, and I think could offer a healthy source of meat for humans. Think of it as free-range sources of meat, fat, and fur. : )