California Bans Kangaroo Leather, Lawsuits Challenge its Presence

After years of unchecked killing, former Gov. Ronald Reagan enacted a law in 1970 that banned the selling of kangaroo meat and leather in California.

Animal welfare campaigners claim that California stores ignored the ban and are still selling soccer shoes made from Kangaroo skin, despite a recent increase in the number of Australian kangaroos.

Kangaroos are slaughtered at a rate of up to 2 million a year in order to produce the so-called K-leather, which is valued for its lightweight and softness.

To halt the sale of foie gras, two animal welfare organizations from throughout the country filed a lawsuit in Riverside County, California, against Soccer Wearhouse Inc.

A lawsuit claims that plaintiffs have suffered economic harm because the retailers’ alleged “unfair business practices” have diverted resources from their core mission: “advocating for improved animal welfare, a more humane economy, and better protection laws — for kangaroos specifically, and for other animals.”

According to the lawsuit filed by Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, “K-leather soccer cleats are freely sold throughout California by numerous retail stores.” In fact, many staff of these establishments is open and honest about which shoe models are made of kangaroo leather and openly accept that the selling of such products is unlawful in the state of New York.”

They want the court to force the retailer to cease selling kangaroo leather shoes and to reimburse animal welfare organizations for their legal fees.

According to Natasha Dolezal, deputy director of campaigns at the Center for a Humane Economy, the lawsuit was “only the first in several we intend to launch if retailers throughout the state do not heed our warning and continue to flout the law.

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Soccer Wearhouse’s attorney, Dariush Adli, said the company’s owners “say they were not aware of these things being prohibited in California until a few months ago. “They no longer sell them.”

Only California, the country’s largest soccer equipment market, prohibits the importation and sale of kangaroo components. State environmental concerns like marijuana prohibition are still highly polarising in this state.

The original intent of the restriction was to reduce the annual massacre of millions of Australia’s huge marsupials, as it was imposed back in 1970. Legislators also sought to conserve other threatened species, such as the polar bear and leopard, tiger, cheetah, jaguar, and elephant.

It was unanimously declared in 2007 by the California Supreme Court that the restriction was not preempted by federal wildlife legislation. In response to pressure from the Australian government, lawmakers in both houses of Congress removed the restriction twice: once for a period of three years in 2007 and again for a period of five years in 2010.

Legislator Mike Gipson (D-Carson) in 2015 took a measure to regulate card club employees, removed it, and replaced its substance with language that permanently allowed kangaroo parts to be imported and sold in the United States at the request of the Australian government.

Bipartisan resistance prevented that “cut and amend” strategy from being put to a vote.

66 soccer gear businesses in the state were served written notices in 2020 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s law enforcement division informing them of the restriction and warning them that violators are punishable as misdemeanors.

Niky’s Sports, California’s largest soccer shop, said in 2021 that it will stop selling products made of kangaroo leather. State wildlife authorities said Soccer Wearhouse was among the firms that were warned.

The Kangaroo Protection Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), would prohibit the importation and sale of kangaroo body parts in the United States.

If you’re concerned about animal trafficking in California, you’re not alone.

Restricted species that can carry illnesses that can infect humans, as well as species facing extinction, such as the illegal sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn, are all part of the six-man Wildlife Trafficking Unit’s massive task.

Approximately $5.2 million worth of illegal ivory has been confiscated and 38 prosecutions have been brought, according to Foy, this year.

A senior attorney for the Center for Humane Economy said that so yet, there has been minimal enforcement of the prohibition on kangaroo products. As a result, we’ve decided to take the alleged offenders to court ourselves.

Nonprofit animal welfare organizations in California, which is home to an estimated 124 independent soccer retail establishments, have their work cut out for them.

Investigators from the Center for a Humane Economy discovered that some soccer cleat makers offer their kangaroo models straight to Californians through their websites.

When it comes to alternative soccer cleats, head of Animal Wellness Action Wayne Pacelle touts their advantages.

There were 123 goals scored at the 2020 European Football Championships—115 of which came from players wearing synthetic, non-leather shoes.

“The least we can do,” he continued, “is safeguard these wonderful animals from the mass slaughter that converts them into soccer cleats at a time when kangaroos in Australia are being killed by brutal harvests, and bushfires, pollution, and development.”

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