California’s Ban On Kangaroo Products Would Be Blocked Under Last-Minute Legislation

A kangaroo hops through the outback landscape on June 7, 2005, near Marree, Australia.

A kangaroo hops through the outback landscape on June 7, 2005, near Marree, Australia. (Ian Waldie/Getty)

With only a few days left before California legislators recess for 2015, a Los Angeles assemblyman is introducing a bill that will no doubt attract an intense lobbying effort from both sides: Permanent approval for importing products made from kangaroos.

The emergence of the bill comes after months of intense Capitol speculation about whether Australian officials were quietly mounting an effort to kill a long-standing ban on kangaroo products. That ban has not been in effect for the last eight years, but is scheduled to resume at the end of the year.

“They’re shoving this through in the last days of the session,” said Jennifer Fearing, a Humane Society lobbyist. “The Legislature should just shut this down.”

The proposal comes technically too late for legislative action, as all deadlines for new bills and bill amendments have passed. But lawmakers often circumvent those rules by removing the contents of an existing bill and replacing them with new language. It’s what’s known in Sacramento parlance as a “gut and amend.”

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Los Angeles, is the author of the bill and says it’s important for the Legislature to act quickly on preserving the importation of products made from kangaroo skin.

“We want to make sure we continue to do business,” said Gipson in a brief interview on Tuesday. “I believe in continuing to move the economy in California forward.”

The freshman assemblyman says he has met with representatives of the Australian government, and that the issue “wasn’t on my radar” until recently.

A photo provided to KQED News by lobbyists shows Assemblyman Mike Gipson with a kangaroo at a Sea World event at the state Capitol in May 2015.
A photo provided to KQED News by lobbyists shows Assemblyman Mike Gipson with a kangaroo at a SeaWorld event at the state Capitol in May 2015. (Pete Montgomery)

Animal rights groups, though, have been closely tracking the moves of pro-kangaroo import efforts during the spring and summer months. Fearing and others were carefully watching, for example, as lawmakers snapped photos with a kangaroo and other exotic animals in late May at a Capitol event sponsored by SeaWorld.

Gipson was one of those photographed by onlookers.

“They’re ignoring the fact that there are dozens of experts globally who’ve raised serious concerns that [kangaroo] populations are crashing,” said Fearing. “The Legislature would be well served by a full vetting of these concerns.”

Legislators are scheduled to adjourn for the year on Sept. 11.

  • CalAussie

    The Australians are fully capable of deciding the level of protection required for their unique native fauna. If in particular, we are discussing the large Red variety, they are culled anyway due to overpopulation (not to mention the 100s killed on motorways every year). So with this in mind, if they can be put to some good (and exportable) use, this will further encourage sustainable husbandry and management. The animal pictured with the legislator is either a young joey, or more likely, a wallaby, and no one is suggesting exporting wallaby products. I can remember as a child my mum buying tinned kangaroo tail soup in NY, considered a delicacy. Besides, I’d rather have my native Australia exporting an infinitely renewable resources like ‘roos rather than shipping millions of tons of coal to generate electricity for the big neighbour to the north.

    • surfcheck

      Okay, The Aussie gov may be capable of deciding the level of protection, so lets split the difference. Allow the Kangaroo products in but no permanent approval.

Author

John Myers

John Myers is Senior Editor of KQED's new California Politics and Government Desk.  A veteran of almost two decades of political coverage, he was KQED's longest serving  statehouse bureau chief and recently was political editor for Sacramento's ABC affiliate, News10 (KXTV). John was moderator of the only 2014 gubernatorial debate, and  was named by The Washington Post to two "Best Of" lists: the 2015 list of top state politics reporters and 2014's list of America's most influential statehouse reporters.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor