California’s statewide ban on alligator and crocodile product sales, which was to go into effect on January 1st, has been temporally halted in Federal Court.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller ruled to give Louisiana a temporary order only a few weeks after the state took California to court over the Alligator and Crocodile issue.
California has had a ban on Alligator meat and skins for almost fifty years. Exemptions have been given by California lawmakers since then. However, neither the Assembly or the Senate voted to extend those exemptions into the 2020’s at the behest of environmental groups and because of falling demand for alligator skin products.
“We don’t get a lot of requests for it anymore,” said Los Angeles-based materials importer Pete Wang. “It’s not used in clothing or goods like luggage anymore because of better materials, like synthetics or plastics. A lot of people here are also horrified that it’s still allowed.”
“By the time it’s inspected and worked with, costs go way up, so even people who were buying it are looking elsewhere.”
“It’s still here, and I understand how important it is for Louisiana, but it’s been making less and less sense here.”
Louisiana has seen the ban as a major threat towards one of its most distinct industries. In the lawsuit, the state also says that a total ban in California would harm Louisiana, as it would give less incentive to protect alligators and coastal areas, as well as severely reduce the amount of money going toward alligator habitat protection, especially on private land. According to the lawsuit, the alligator farming industry was actually instrumental in the removal of the American Alligator from the Endangered Species List in 1987 because of the needed extra protections.
A loss of jobs, both in Louisiana through alligator farming and in California through sales, was also noted.
“The temporary restraining order is the first step in protecting Louisiana’s alligator industry, which creates jobs, supports our economy and contributes to much-needed coastal restoration efforts,” stated Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in a press release.
Jack Montoucet of Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries also noted, “I hope the courts will understand the unique combination of the industry’s effort to care for the alligator population and the need to be good stewards of the environment where the alligators live.”
Both California and Louisiana have agreed to a temporary halt on the ban, as both states will need several months to look into what the ban will mean for both states. A hearing over the ban has been scheduled for April 24th and is expected to give a more permanent ruling on the issue.