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‘Emotive Misinformation’: Conservationists, Industry Warn Oregon Lawmakers Against Kangaroo Product Ban

An Eastern Grey Kangaroo is seen at Look At Me Now Headland in Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia on Nov. 25, 2022. (Matt Jelonek/Getty Images)

A proposed ban on kangaroo-based products by Oregon lawmakers would only result in more suffering and unregulated killing of the native Australian marsupial, according to conservationists and wildlife experts.

Senate Bill 764, introduced by Sen. Floyd Prozanska (D-Eugene), would ban the sale of kangaroo parts and products in Oregon with the threat of fines or a prison sentence.

The Bill is largely aimed at Nike—headquartered in Oregon—which uses kangaroo leather in the manufacture of soccer cleats.

“I understand this legislation may have a financial impact on some Oregon shoe manufacturers, but in the balance, Oregon should be standing on the humane side of this issue,” said Prozanski, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a press release from the Center for a Humane Economy.

“There are other materials that can be used in making these high-end cleats.”

Epoch Times Photo Nike shoes are seen displayed at a sporting goods store in New York City, N.Y., on May 14, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The senator also said it was “unconscionable” that millions of Australian animals were being killed for the manufacture of the products.

While Scott Beckstead, director at the Center, claimed synthetic shoes sold far better than kangaroo-based ones.

“Commercial exploitation of the killing of millions of kangaroos, including joeys in their mothers’ pouches, is wasteful, inhumane, and a breach of the values of most Oregonians,” he said.

Yet, in reality, Australian authorities have banned the killing of female kangaroos with obvious young, and if a female is killed, the young can only be killed with sanctioned methods.

Similar legislation has been introduced in New Jersey and Connecticut. In 2021, the federal House of Representatives also considered such a law.

A Complete Lack of Understanding, Experts Say

The move has united conservationists and the kangaroo product industry in Australia, with both groups warning local authorities were already struggling with an overabundance of the iconic animal.

Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia (KIAA) said it would speak with the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. regarding the “misinformation” fueling lawmakers in Oregon and Connecticut.

“We believe the recent move is driven by emotive misinformation by animal activist groups targeting U.S. politicians,” said Dennis King, executive officer of the KIAA, in a statement (pdf).

Epoch Times Photo A kangaroo is seen in the rain in Sydney, Australia on March 22, 2021. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“We are calling out the misinformation being circulated around kangaroo management and highlighting the need for greater awareness around the benefits of managing an overabundant species, including increased biodiversity and sustainability, a reduction in adverse animal welfare outcomes, and waste reduction,” he said.

The current national kangaroo population is estimated to be around 40 million, with numbers surging to up to 50 million during good breeding seasons.

King said this results in “damage to farmland, habitats, along with posing a risk to motorists, and suffering starvation from over-grazing.”

“In the absence of a commercial industry, conservation culling would still need to occur to manage the populations of certain species. A strictly regulated and ethical commercial industry has the ability to make use of kangaroos that would otherwise need to be discarded,” he said.

Kangaroo hunting numbers are also set by the government, with quotas often not met.

For example, in 2019, authorities set a quota of 6.2 million kangaroos to be culled across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia—yet only 1.6 million kangaroos were harvested.

Better Conditions for Kangaroos When Commercial Demand Is High

George Wilson, honorary professor at the Australian National University, and John Read, of the University of Adelaide, said their combined 80 years of experience and research in the field showed that a robust kangaroo product industry generally resulted in better conditions for the animals.

The two wrote in The Conversation that reducing global demand for kangaroo would result in more “unregulated, uncontrolled and unmonitored killing by amateur hunters to flourish.”

Epoch Times Photo An eastern grey kangaroo is seen at Look At Me Now Headland at Coffs Harbour in NSW, Australia on Nov. 25, 2022. (Matt Jelonek/Getty Images)

They said too many kangaroos can pose a serious issue for “threatened plants and animals and revegetation programs.”

“They also compromise landholders’ ability to manage their properties. For example, during drought, kangaroos graze on valuable pasture, making it harder for farmers to keep cattle alive.”

Further, the experts found that when the commercial industry weakens, demand for non-commercial culling increases.

“[Farmers] use amateur shooters and even illegal poisons, to reduce kangaroo numbers on their properties.”