No Budget Solution But Importing Kangaroo Parts Is Preserved
California may face a dire fiscal emergency and struggles to close a $20 billion budget hole but legislation has been introduced to extend the state law allowing the importation of dead kangaroo parts.
Section 6530 of the Penal Code makes it illegal “to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the
state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any polar bear, leopard, ocelot, tiger, cheetah, jaguar, sable antelope, wolf, zebra, whale, cobra, python, sea turtle, colobus monkey, kangaroo, vicuna, sea otter, free-roaming feral horse, dolphin or porpoise, Spanish lynx or elephant.
In 2015, “the dead body, or any part or product thereof” of crocodiles and alligators will be added to the list.
Each violation of this law is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000 or imprisonment in county jail of up to six months or both.
There is an exception, however, for kangaroos.
Primarily because kangaroo leather, which is strong but flexible, is favored by many soccer players for their shoes.
David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer team wore kangaroo leather Predator soccer shoes by Adidas, the largest buyer of kangaroo skins in the world, according to Viva! USA, an animal rights group.
In 2006, Beckham announced he was switching to synthetic leather.
Under state law, the kangaroo skins can only be imported if the kangaroo was “harvested lawfully” under Australian national and state law, the federal Endangered Species Act and “applicable international conventions.”
The exception, created in 2007 legislation, SB 880, is set to expire on January 1, 2011.
The same author, Sen. Ron Calderon, a Montebello Democrat, is carrying a new bill, SB 1345, to extend the kangaroo exemption indefinitely.
It’s chief difference from the previous bill is the Department of Fish and Game no longer would check to ensure the kangaroos were “harvested” properly.
Adidas America and the Australian government were sponsors of Calderon’s original bill, which nullified a July 2007 California Supreme Court ruling banning importation of kangaroo products.
Viva International Voice for Animals filed the suit against Adidas. Australia filed papers supporting Adidas’ position, arguing that in 2005 there were 25 million of the marsupials and that thinning their ranks was sound wildlife management.
There are 55 species of kangaroo in Australia, only the four most abundant can be commercially killed. They are the Red, Eastern Grey, Western Grey and Wallaroo kangaroos. The Red – the largest living marsupial — Eastern Grey and Western Grey are the most widespread of the species, comprising 90 percent of the commercial “harvest,” according to a Senate analysis of Calderon’s previous legislation.
Two previous bills aimed at lifting the ban failed passage in 2005 and 2006.
From the 2003-2004 legislative session through the 2007-2008 session when Calderon’s first measure was signed into law, Adidas spent some $660,000 lobbying the Legislature.
The owner of the Los Angeles Galaxy is billionaire investor Phil Anschutz who also owns a stake in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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