this website uses cookies. by continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our cookies policy.
got it  X

Kangaroos and the United States

Life on land

"Foreign governments must use diplomatic negotiations to influence trade policies, but the Government of Australia has instead avoided transparency and funnelled money through an Australian trade association in order to directly impact the legislative debate in California”.

Peter and Andrea Hylands

May 21, 2023

Sadly, the Australian Government is about to recommence its lobbying efforts in the United States with the Kangaroo industry it continues to support, so history will repeat itself, regardless of the distress of the many Australians who find themselves in the front line of the slaughter and the immense suffering of Kangaroos.

2 MARCH 2023

One more joins the fight to save Kangaroos in the US following Washington DC, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Oregon. This time it is Vermont.

“Vermont Representative, Conor Casey, champions new bill to promote humane and conservation-minded commerce”. Robert Galvin, Vermont State Director, Animal Wellness Action

A deepening concern

The very first story we wrote about the plight of Australia’s Kangaroos was a long time ago, its origins far from Australian shores, a University function in Canada.

Later that evening and at the graduation dinner, we were seated next to a middle aged Canadian guy who worked in an agency representing one of Canada’s agricultural industries. The conversation turned to our world travels and eventually to Australia.

“I have been on a trip there, to South Australia, I was invited to stay on a farm there. We spent the evening in a vehicle running down Kangaroos and Emus along the fence lines of the farm”.

He appeared to be getting some sense of joy from what he was telling me. In reality this was a sadistic and cruel act, yet another example among thousands, of the intensely cruel treatment dished out to Australia’s wildlife.

Emus and Kangaroos are very vulnerable to horrific injuries. I could only image broken bones protruding through torn skin and a long and agonising journey to death, in the case of female Kangaroos, often with a joey in the pouch.

The United States and Kangaroos

Over many decades we have had a lot to do with California, from music, to publishing, to the arts and film making, California’s cultural institutions and the Internet.

That dinner at a Canadian University, led us to think more about the events in California and the state’s concerns for Kangaroos. Most recently international attention has been generated by the Center for a Humane Economy, which identified serious criminal violations of Californian Law in relation to the trade in wildlife, specifically Kangaroos. These violations of California law are in large part enabled by the actions of Australian Governments.

Here is a brief history, in California and since 1971 it has been illegal to import Kangaroo products. In 2007 a moratorium was placed on that ban, largely due to the lobbying efforts of sportswear companies that had included Kangaroo skins in their products, particularly for shoes (cleats). The moratorium ended on January 1, 2016, and the import ban again covers the import, possession with intent to sell and the sale of Kangaroo parts. Violators face fines or up to six months in jail.

“1 am - 5 February 2021 - Another horrific night of Kangaroo shooting in Dunkeld. We wake to lights flashing through our dwelling at 1:30 am and the sound of gunfire nearby. Get up, look out the window and see a ute with a spotlight near the front gate. Dead Kangaroos, decapitated, one very small, are hanging from the vehicle”. Jane and Frank, Dunkeld, Victoria

In 2016, and as part of the lobbying efforts by the Australian Government to ensure the moratorium continued, Australia’s Commonwealth Government got itself into difficulties with California’s legislators. The government itself under investigation for possibly violating Californian law through its lobbying efforts and indirectly its financial support of this lobbying.

Statements from the Fair Political Practices Commission commission included:

"This appears to be a clear attempt to obscure a foreign government's lobbying activities to repeal a necessary animal protection statute" and
"Foreign governments must use diplomatic negotiations to influence trade policies, but the Government of Australia has instead avoided transparency and funnelled money through an Australian trade association in order to directly impact the legislative debate in California”.

Long term concerns in the United States about the treatment of Kangaroos in Australia

“What people do globally can really hurt people locally. Here our friends in California and across the US reach out to help those Australian locals that do not want Kangaroos butchered on their doorstep. What you do around the world can really hurt the locals. So think about what you buy. So helping animals can also help people too”. Andrea Hylands

The Red Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, and the Eastern Grey Kangaroo in mainland Australia were listed in the US on December 30, 1974 (39 FR 44990), as threatened species pursuant to the Act and the commercial importation of Kangaroos, their parts, and products were banned. A special rule to allow such importations into the United States after development of adequate State management plans accompanied the listing.

The Australian Government (and all state governments), instead of protecting Australian native species, has worked hard on trying to influence US Governments to remove Kangaroo species (and keep it that way) from the US threatened species list. That removal has taken us to the dire circumstances now facing Kangaroos across the Australian Continent.

“There is great concern among critics that management programs both for individual States and the Commonwealth are insensitive to the plight of Kangaroos during environmental stress periods as during the 1982-1984 drought. The perceived insensitivity at that time was an apparent inability or unwillingness to reduce the commercial ‘harvest’ of Kangaroos in what critics considered a timely manner during an environmental stress period. The critics argue that demands from the pastoral industry and the commercial Kangaroo industry superseded important Kangaroo management decisions. The present concern with insensitivity occurred because some important Kangaroo habitats experienced droughts during 1992 at a time when a record macropod ‘harvest’ quota of 5.2 million animals (including 4,942,000 Red and Grey Kangaroos) was established.” [Federal Register Volume 60, Number 46 (Thursday, March 9, 1995)] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of Three Kangaroos From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

Kangaroos in the United States: 2023 update

The tables have now turned again in the Kangaroo’s favour, with the Kangaroo Protection Act in California being monitored for breaches in California law as it is illegal to sell any part of a Kangaroo in California. Kangaroo Protection Acts have also been introduced to the Legislatures in Vermont, Arizona, New Jersey, Oregon and Connecticut and similar bills are being drafted in other US states.

At the time of writing Arizona is the latest state to introduce a Kangaroo Protection Act.

Arizona State representative Dr Amish Shah introduced the Unlawful Kangaroo Exchange Act on 7 February 2023. The Unlawful Kangaroo Exchange Act, also known as HB 2741, states that it is unlawful for a person to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence, purchase, receive, sell, transfer or otherwise exchange for commercial purpose, any part of a dead Kangaroo or any product containing a part of a dead Kangaroo.

An important bipartisan bill for the protection of Kangaroos was also drafted in Washington DC (Congress 02/08/2021). The Washington Bill would establish new federal crimes:

"Related to commercial activities involving Kangaroos and Kangaroo products. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the import for commercial purposes, possession with intent to sell, or sale of a Kangaroo; and the introduction into interstate commerce; manufacture for introduction into interstate commerce; sale, trade, or advertisement in interstate commerce; or offer to sell, or transport or distribute in interstate commerce, any Kangaroo product. A violator is subject to civil and criminal penalties. Additionally, a Kangaroo or Kangaroo product used in a violation is subject to forfeiture".

Bills are cleared for the mid-terms so this Federal Bill will now be re-introduced.