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Lawmaker introduces last-minute bill to eliminate kangaroo products ban

A Los Angeles-area lawmaker has introduced a last-minute measure that would eliminate California’s decades-long ban on imports of kangaroo products.

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, a freshman Democrat from Carson, has inserted changes into an existing bill, a process known as gut-and-amend, that would delete the word “kangaroo” from California’s long-standing ban on products derived from protected animals, such as cheetahs, sea turtles and dolphins.

The kangaroo ban has been the subject of recent legislative intrigue; an animal rights activist submitted a complaint to the state ethics agency last week alleging the Australian government did not properly disclose its lobbying activity in its efforts to roll back the ban.

The Australian government has argued that the prohibition does not differentiate between species of kangaroos, and noted that some types of kangaroos are so numerous that their populations are annually culled.

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Animal rights activists quickly mobilized an effort against the proposed amendments, which were submitted Tuesday morning. Without legislative action, the ban, which had been suspended for several years, is set to go back into effect next year.

The Humane Society of the United States is circulating a flier arguing that commercial kangaroo harvesting is cruel and unsustainable. It also notes the late-breaking nature of the measure, AB 1188, stating it was introduced “Seven days before the end of session. It should not advance and should be rejected.”

Gipson said he introduced the bill for economic reasons.

“We want to make sure we continue to do business, continue to keep jobs in California, especially good jobs,” Gipson told reporters Tuesday.

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In a statement, he later elaborated that “the importation of kangaroo products has been allowed in California for years, and state, federal and international laws continue to protect all endangered animals.”

“Furthermore, the ecological conservation methods developed by the Australian government ensure that the trade benefits we receive come from the sustainable management of the species involved,” the statement said.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.


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