The Animals, Revisited

June 19, 1995|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans. -- Whenever animals are in the news it's usually something bad for them. Here in Louisiana, squads of assassins were stalking the swamp to kill the nutria rats who are eating the state, when the flood came. The nutria got a reprieve but now the nightscopes are back on the guns and you can hear the pop-pop as the fur flies.

Nutria aren't good for much: They taste like they look and their coats haven't caught on. There is talk of turning their bones into casino chips but there is such a surplus of human bones the rats will just have to wait.

In the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, rangers have been killing mule deer that have become hooked on junk food left over by tourists. Doesn't make sense. Shouldn't they shoot the tourists instead? I mean, these tourists will go on leaving half-eaten cow fragments for half-starved animals wherever they go, hooking more and more of them until there'll be lines of animals outside McDonald's like junkies outside drugstores in England.

But another news event would make a shark smile. Wildlife and Fishery agents here busted some of Louisiana's best chefs in a surprise sting operation. They dragged the chefs out of their kitchens, cuffed them, and drove them downtown. Chef Apuzzo, author of two cookbooks, said while being frisked: ''It's very unusual.'' And Chef Imbraguglio quipped as he was being cuffed: ''I'm scared to death.''

The chefs' crime was buying protected redfish from peddlers.

Nutria and deer are being eliminated because they inconvenience humans, but at least somebody's standing up for fish.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of ''Exquisite Corpse.''

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