California ban on kangaroo imports returns

September 14, 2015

kangarooA California ban on the import of kangaroo parts will return next year after an eight-year hiatus. [Guardian]

The trade of kangaroo parts currently comprises a $200 million industry in California. Kangaroo skins are used to make some shoes and gloves. Australia also exports kangaroo meat, and some of it is used to make pet food.

In 1971, California banned the import of kangaroo products. The state adopted a moratorium in 2007 that lifted the ban.

The moratorium expires at the end of 2015. Assemblyman Mike Gipson introduced a bill to extend kangaroo trade in California, but the state’s legislative session ended Friday without the proposal passing.

The ban on kangaroo imports will return despite a lobbying effort by the Australian government. Australia’a department of agriculture reportedly paid $143,000 to the Kangaroo Industry of Australia, which was then supposed to give the money to American firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in order to lobby members of the Legislature.

Kim Beazley, Australia’s ambassador to the United States, also advocated for the continuation of kangaroo trade in California. Beazley has stated the four species of kangaroos that are harvested have a population of about 50 million, or twice the human population of Australia.

Opponents of the kangaroo trade say it is cruel and that kangaroos are not as abundant as the Australian government claims.

“Californians want nothing to do with Australia’s massive commercial slaughter of millions of these wonderful creatures every year,” said Wayne Pacelle, the chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States.

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That’s the first I have ever heard of a kangaroo trade. How bizarre. “That’s a lovely scarf”. “oh thank you, it’s kangaroo.” Strange, indeed.

Under the Constitution, the Federal government controls imports and exports. The States have no legal authority to limit imports and the interstate commerce clause will be invoked to prevent California from enforcing this stupid law. The place to change the law would be either Canberra or Washington D.C.

The courts will be shooting down the laws about chicken eggs soon.

Overpopulation of kangaroos is not only a problem for biodiversity, but it is humane for kangaroos in the long run. Once levels of kangaroos reach ‘crash point’ they often die in the hundreds by starvation and parasites. Now that is cruel. Culling kangaroos in family groups by a professional sharpshooter is the best way to go.

While kangaroos are native Australian animals and a key Australian icon, they can cause damage to the Australian environment. When the kangaroo population is too large, they eat and trample too much bush-land, meaning that other native species of flora and fauna face extinction. Kangaroo culling is done in a humane way and does not make kangaroos endangered.

Leave it to California to buy into the Bambi mentality.

The Aussies just need to do a bit of rebranding here. I’m going to suggest, “wild Outback macropods”. It almost sounds vegan!