Environmental protection doesn’t just mean protecting everything. Invasive animal and plant species threaten our ecosystem and displace native species.
The animals themselves are, of course, innocent. But far from their usual environment and their usual predators, they cause great damage and also displace native species. Means: Your inventory must be limited.
And that’s where we humans come into play as new “predators”. Because many of them taste really good.
From the Pacific oyster to the large muskrat: BILD shows you which intruders should end up in your saucepan.
What are invasive species?
This is the name given to animals and plants that unnaturally find their way into foreign ecosystems and compete with native species. Some were introduced by humans on purpose. American raccoons, nutrias, and muskrats, for example, were bred for their fur in Europe. But when demand fell, the animals were simply released in nature.
Container ship traffic also distributes unwanted passengers around the world: up to 10,000 species can travel in the ballast water of a giant ship and be unloaded in new waters.
Hard to imagine: there were no mammals in New Zealand before the arrival of humans. But with the arrival of European settlers came sheep, deer, rats and cats, which fundamentally changed the island state’s ecosystem and pushed many native animal species to the brink of extinction.
In order to protect the native flora and fauna, a solution must be found, which is why many ecologists today recommend eating the intruders – even if the behavior of people is the real culprit in the matter.
When you hear oysters, you think of a cool dozen on ice, with vinaigrette and champagne. A supposedly decadent pleasure, but the waters of the German North Sea have more of the molluscs than the coast can handle.
Originally they were brought from the sea around Japan and China to the North Sea in France and the Netherlands, but they are so fertile that they have now displaced almost all native mussel species.
If you want to counteract this plague and also slurp a few oysters, you should ask the fishmonger about “wild oysters”. These are mostly of the Pacific variant and are harvested using traditional means. Maybe one day the popular, but displaced mussel will return to our waters.
So many crabs
Much like the oyster, crab meat is considered a fine commodity. The tender, pink meat belongs in a classic Leipziger Allerlei. But native crayfish are almost extinct in this country. On the other hand, American and Asian cancers are taking a liking to German rivers and lakes. In the Berlin zoo, when it rains heavily, red marsh crabs are said to crawl across paths and meadows in search of new breeding grounds.
So far, there has been only limited commercial fishing for the crustaceans. A Hessian start-up called Holycrab, for example, buys their goods from fishermen in order to cook a spicy broth from the animals. Some upscale restaurants also order the little crawlers, but you definitely have to eat more to stop the invasion.
The Chinese woolly crab, which is also invasive in the waters around Berlin, is so expensive in China that it is now being considered to import its unloved cousins from Germany in order to meet domestic demand.
In the Middle Ages, beavers were considered a suitable fasting food, because the Catholic Church saw them as fish – and not meat. Nowadays rabbits are the only rodents tolerated on western plates, but that could be reconsidered.
Nutrien and muskrats were brought to Europe along with raccoons in the 18th century. They have thick fur and large bodies, which was particularly interesting for the fur industry. But when the market collapsed in the 20th century, many of the breeding animals were released and have been reproducing since then. In the years between 2006 and 2016 alone, their amount doubled. Their constructions in particular cause damage to banks and dykes.
Nutria meat is considered tender and tasty, similar to suckling pig. Since they are released for hunting and regulations were even relaxed in 2020, the meat is pretty easy to get hold of today.
Find out where they would buy other game and braise the meat like a rabbit.