Several sporting retailers in California have been sued for allegedly violating a 50-year-old ban in the State on selling products made of Kangaroo skin. The Centre for a Humane Economy and the Animal Wellness Action group filed a civil lawsuit in a Californian court against US Soccer Wearhouse and other sporting retailers claiming they were “openly flouting the law” by selling “kangaroo-based cleats” in their shops. Cleats are protrusions on the sole of a shoe or on an external attachment to a shoe that provide additional traction on a soft or slippery surface, and some manufacturers use for these leather made of kangaroo skin because of its high strength-to-weight ratio
Kangaroo products have been banned in California since 1971 due to the cruelty of killing marsupials in Australia for commercial reasons, and in 2007, the California supreme court affirmed the ban in an unrelated case concerning the sale of Adidas soccer cleats made from kangaroo leather. These animal protection organisations allege that they discovered these products and reported their findings to state regulatory bodies, but that: “neither the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is the agency tasked with the investigation and prosecution of wildlife trafficking, nor any state or county prosecutors, has initiated a single enforcement action for violations of the kangaroo portion of section 653o.”
According to the Guardian, the New South Wales inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos found major issues with the monitoring and audit of the culling and harvesting system, but only two of its 23 recommendations have been adopted in full. There is pressure to ban the import of kangaroo products in the European Union too due to animal welfare concerns. If a ban is enacted there, this will have a great impact on the kangaroo exploitation industry as Europe is currently the largest market globally for products made of kangaroo skin.