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On the Swampy Trail of the Nutria

On nutria hunting nights, it's Ronnie Leblanc's job to retrieve and bag the dead rodents. He is an employee of the Jefferson Parish Drainage Department.
John Burnett, NPR
On nutria hunting nights, it's Ronnie Leblanc's job to retrieve and bag the dead rodents. He is an employee of the Jefferson Parish Drainage Department.

In Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, a hunt for small, furry animals called nutria has become a signature ritual. The hunts are organized by the popular sheriff Harry Lee.

The nutria patrol -- a squad of snipers in camoflauge gear -- cruises the banks of drainage canals looking for the aquatic, South American herbivore with orange incisors, soft fur (the sheriff is said to own a nutria coat) and the ability to nurse its young on its back.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As NPR's Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018, 2019 and again in 2020, he won national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat. In 2020, Burnett along with other NPR journalists, were finalists for a duPont-Columbia Award for their coverage of the Trump Administration's Remain in Mexico program. In December 2018, Burnett was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.

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