Animal rights activists are furious that a bill in California to allow the importation of products made from kangaroos is being offered in the state legislature.
California banned the importation of kangaroo parts in 1971, but in 2007, the state terminated the ban. The ban is due to resume at the end of this year.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Los Angeles) has authored a bill to keep the moratorium on the ban in place, telling Bay Area public radio station KQED, “We want to make sure we continue to do business. I believe in continuing to move the economy in California forward.” Gipson was photographed at a Sea World-sponsored event at which pictures were taken with a kangaroo.
Jennifer Fearing, a Humane Society lobbyist, said bluntly, “They’re shoving this through in the last days of the session. The Legislature should just shut this down.”
Even though the deadline for new bills and bill amendments has passed, it is possible to substitute new language for the language in an existing bill in order to take legislative action.
Gipson has met representatives of the Australian government, who are eager to see that the moratorium on the ban stays in place. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Australian government routinely culls certain types of kangaroos as they are huge in number; the Australian government also claims that the California ban does not distinguish between kangaroos that are protected and those that are not.
Kim Beazley, Australian ambassador to the U.S., stated, “Over the last decade, [California and Australia] have cooperated to ensure non-endangered kangaroo products are imported into California and sold by Californian businesses in a manner consistent with science-based wildlife management practices designed to ensure sustainability of kangaroo populations–currently numbering over 50 million for the 4 species in question.”
The Times reported that leading Democrats assert that the ban will be reinstituted; Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for Senate leader Kevin de León, said, “The pro tem’s office is not planning any new policy regarding the sale of kangaroo products in California,” while John Casey, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), was quoted by the Times as saying that “attempting to lift the ban on importing kangaroo products in California is nothing the Assembly is considering at this time.”