BATON ROUGE, La. — Marsh Dog LLC, a dog treat manufacturer using an invasive species of wild, semi-aquatic rodents, announced July 23 the release of three new treat products, each of them all-natural with nutria as the first ingredient.

The company introduced blueberry, grain-free cranberry, and brown rice and sweet potato formulas that are all-natural and compliant with AAFCO ingredient standards. Each of the treat products are sourced, manufactured and packaged in the US.

Wild Nutria Blueberry dog treats are crunchy, while the grain-free cranberry and brown rice and sweet potato treats are soft chews.

The use of wild nutria in Marsh Dog’s pet treats was sparked in reaction to the destruction of Louisiana wetlands by an invasive species of wild nutria. South Louisiana natives, siblings and co-founders of the company Hansel Harlan, Veni Harlan, and Gretel Harlan Kelly developed a way to decrease the adverse effects of nutria in the wetlands while utilizing their nutritional value by including them in dog treats.

Nutria meat, called ragondin, is a lean protein comparable to rabbit that is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol, according to a program pushed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for human consumption of the invasive species.

In 2002, the LDWF implemented an incentive program to decrease numbers of nutria in the grasslands, the Coastwide Nutria Control Program (CNCP), by placing a $5 bounty on each wild nutria caught by hunters and trappers.

On July 2, the LDWF raised the bounty to $6 per nutria for the season spanning Nov. 20, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

The LDWF reported that from 2002 to 2017 local hunters and trappers removed nearly five million wild nutria from its wetlands and marshes. The state department said it hopes to remove up to 400,000 wild nutria from Louisiana wetlands each season to prevent drastic marsh damage.

The LDWF reported approximately 16,424 acres of wetlands have been impacted by wild nutria as of April 2018. According to the Harlan siblings, wild nutria had destroyed more than 100,000 acres of wetlands before the CNCP was implemented.

Marsh Dog was founded in 2012 when it released its first nutria-based dog treats, including biscuits and jerky products, with the help of a grant from the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. The company has further developed its dog treat line after partnering with a US-based manufacturer in 2019.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.