Californians Can Keep Buying Kangaroo for Another Five Years

A good day for California soccer players and a bad day for kangaroos as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has extended the state law allowing the importation of dead kangaroo parts.

While the state prohibits the importing of products made from various exotic dead animals, an exemption was created for kangaroo in 2007.

Prior to the exemption, California was the only state prohibit ing the importation of products using kanagaroo.

Kangaroo leather, which is strong but flexible, is favored by many soccer players for their shoes. It is also used to make boots worn by law enforcement.

An exemption to the kangaroo ban has been long sought by Adidas America, the largest buyer of kangaroo skins in the world, according to Viva! USA, an animal rights group.

Adidas and the Australian government were the sponsors of SB 880, the 2007 bill creating the exemption which was set to expire January 1, 2011.

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.

Prior to the 2007 legislative session, the Secretary of State shows no campaign contributions made by Adidas. In 2007, when Calderon’s exemption bill was pending, the company spent $44,960 including $2,360 to Calderon – the maximum allowable at the time.

The measure Schwarzenegger signed extends the exemption to 2016.  It was authored by the same lawmaker as the original exemption bill – Sen. Ron Calderon, a Montebello Democrat.

In 1971, kangaroos were added to Section 6530 of the Penal Code which says it’s 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.

Adidas challenged the ban, saying federal law preempted it.

In 2003, Viva International Voice for Animals sued Adidas, arguing states have the power to enact tougher protections for wildlife than the federal government.

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.

In 2007, the California Supreme Court agreed with the animal rights group. Adidas and the Australian government then convinced Calderon to carry legislation nullifying the court ruling.

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 new law signed by Schwarzenegger is SB 1345.

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 47 species of kangaroo in Australia, only the five most abundant can be commercially killed.  They are the Red, Eastern Gray, Western Gray, Wallaroo kangaroos Bennett’s Wallaby, found only on King Island Tasmania.

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” which was set at 4 million in 2010, according to a Senate analysis of Calderon’s legislation.

Total kangaroo population in the “harvest” area is 27 million, Australia says.

Two previous bills aimed at lifting the ban failed passage in 2005 and 2006.



  1. Coincidence? The only contributions made by Adidas to California lawmakers came in 2007 when it contributed $30,191 based on MAPLight.org’s contribution database that goes back to the 2004 election cycle. Each contribution came after the May 8 hearing date from the link above.

    Comment by Jeff Friedman — 9.29.2010 @ 5:22 pm

  2. Dear American kangaroo-lovers,

    Please try to get it through your insular skulls that “kangaroo” is a generic term like “cat”. That latter word includes lions, tigers, pumas and a great deal more. You would not legislate to protect “cats” because people would laugh at you. “Do you mean Smilodon as well?” they would ask.

    Please rest assured that when American politicians legislate to protect “the kangaroo”, they are being just as ludicrous. The kangaroo-leather industry is a sustainable one that does far less harm to the fragile topsoils of Australia than a sheep or cattle leather industry.

    The kangaroos harvested are large ones, usually male, and as one male can impregnate many females, this will have, under anything less than extreme shooting, no effect on populations. Females are smaller, so the heart-rending tales of orphan joeys just gives Australians the giggles.

    A number of macropod (that’s the technical name for kanagoos, wallabies and wallaroos) species are indeed endangered, but they aren’t hunted. If there is a viable ‘roo-leather industry, land will be turned over to provide low-intensity farm land that benefits all of the macropods. Conservation, real conservation, depends on knowing what you are doing.

    Australia has got it right: now please try to follow suit. When you shoot your mouth off while your foot is in your mouth, you will only end up shooting yourself in the foot.

    Comment by McManly — 9.29.2010 @ 10:04 pm

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