A 40-year-old controversy concerning the importation of kangaroo pelts from Australia sparked off once more in California. An animal welfare advocacy group seeks ban on the trade, but Australian lobbyists and Australian government try by all means necessary to prevent the ban.
Importing and selling kangaroo pelts and parts was illegal in California since the 1970s, but in 2007, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lifted the ban. Currently, The Humane Society of the United States seeks to reintroduce the ban by the end of the year.
But Washington lobbyists, the Australian kangaroo industry, a California lawmaker, and even the Australian government rallied against the group to stop the ban from being reenacted.
In 1971, California governor banned imports of kangaroo pelts and parts in the state in an effort to discourage poaching and bringing species on the verge of extinction. The ban was upheld 32 years until several activists sued Adidas because it started to sell boots made of kangaroo leather.
As a result, Adidas lobbied aggressively and spent nearly half a million dollars to persuade Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign off a law that would allow kangaroo imports, but only if the species were not endangered.
This law will expire in December, but the Australian kangaroo industry is battling against animal welfare advocates to block a ban. And the industry has a strong supporter – House representative Mike Gipson, who performed a dirty trick to lift the ban forever.
Several days ago he converted an act that was designed to regulate gambling into an act that would alter the penal code’s section related to imported animals. If the move is successful and the bill turns into law, animal advocates will be no longer able to request a ban on kangaroo parts imports even if the animals are on the threatened species list.
Plus, the move would set a dangerous precedent for other U.S. states since California is well-known for its strong network of animal-rights activists and even stronger economy (the fifth in the world). Animal advocates hope that by reintroducing the ban California sportswear producers may remove kangaroo leather from their future products.
The Humane Society recently told reporters that what Gipson was trying to do was simply dishonest. Moreover, the group disclosed that the Australian government resorted to shady practices to maintain the trade.
It gave the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia (KIAA) $100,000 to send three major lobbyists in California. Although, KIAA puts pressure on California government, The Humane Society claims that the group is just a shield used by the Australian government to win the fight.
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