State Bills Seek to Prevent Kangaroos Becoming Shoes

Activists say 70% of kangaroo skins sold end up in high-end soccer cleats
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2023 1:09 PM CST
State Bills Seek to Prevent Kangaroos Becoming Shoes
Gray kangaroos feed on grass near Canberra, Australia, on March 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mark Graham, File)

Oregon and Connecticut are considering bans on the sale of products made from kangaroos, while a similar bill awaits debate in the US House. Oregon lawmakers have joked that the proposal could "bounce" to the state House or land in "kangaroo court," per Oregon Public Broadcasting. But supporters of the measure to ban the sale of kangaroo parts and products made from kangaroo leather—particularly soccer cleats—say it's no laughing matter. "It's unconscionable that millions of native wild animals in Australia have been killed for the sake of high-end soccer cleats worn by a subset of elite soccer players," says state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat who introduced the bill now under consideration by Oregon's Senate Judiciary Committee, per the AP.

Manufacturers Adidas and Oregon-based Nike, the state's largest employer, say they only use kangaroo leather—"lighter, more malleable, and more durable than cowhide," per ESPN—that's ethically sourced. Australia's government has backed commercial harvests of kangaroos since 1999 and claims "no adverse long-term impacts on kangaroo populations have been identified." More than 1.3 million kangaroos were commercially harvested in 2021, which the government said was less than a third of the number that could've been killed without threatening the four main kangaroo species. There were 42.7 million kangaroos in Australia as of October, compared to 26 million people, according to government estimates.

Yet animal rights groups say the practice amounts to "extreme animal cruelty," per Fox. "There's no reason to kill 2 million kangaroos on the other side of the planet for soccer cleats that can be made with other fabrics," Wayne Pacelle of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy says in response to a bill introduced in Connecticut, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Commerce. California has banned the sale of kangaroo products since 1970, though it has twice lifted the ban since 2007 "at the urging of the Australian government," per the Los Angeles Times. A bipartisan bill to ban the commercial import and sale of kangaroo products across the US has amassed 19 co-sponsors since it was introduced in 2021. (More kangaroos stories.)

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