Media Release 24 August 2015
JM Coetzee (Nobel Prize Laureate) and Dr Brian May (astrophysicist and Queen guitarist) join 72 other scientists, academics and public figures urging California to reinstate its ban on imported kangaroo products.
Over 70 scientists, academics, educators and other public figures from Australia, the UK and the United States, including Nobel Prize Laureate JM Coetzee and astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May, have signed an open letter to Californian lawmakers urging reinstatement of the Californian ban on imported products made from kangaroos.
California banned importation of kangaroo products when the United States listed the commercially shot kangaroo species as threatened in 1974. This followed Australia’s own 1973 ban on exported kangaroo products, based on evidence of serious decline in kangaroos.
The US delisted the species in 1995 and California’s import ban temporarily lifted in 2007 after intensive lobbying by the commercial kangaroo industry, Adidas and the Australian Government.
“California’s import ban is due to resume at the end of 2015. The industry is seeking permanent unchecked importation of kangaroo products,” said letter coordinators Helen Bergen and Teja Brooks Pribac.
“Kangaroos grow and breed slowly with high juvenile mortality, and suffer major declines during drought. Intense hunting and systematic eradication programs since British settlement in 1788, and decades of industrial-scale commercial killing beyond reproductive capacity has seen local extinctions of populations.
“Australian government policy favours the commercial industry, despite growing concerns about the science used to justify the commercial kangaroo shooting and export industries.
“Population estimates over-inflate numbers from which unattainable inflated shooting quotas are extracted. This reinforces the myth of kangaroos as abundant and as pests, despite current science indicating otherwise.
“ There is also increasing concern about the known cruelty issues for shot kangaroos and their joeys; and about the risk of pathogens that continue to be found in kangaroo meat,” said scientist Dr Dror Ben-Ami.
“Supporters of the commercial kangaroo industry are quick to deride these concerns, however signatories to the letter are educated and critical-thinking people, who well understand the seriousness of the questions being asked,” added Mses Bergen and Pribac.
“Government custodianship of wildlife should never be driven by commercial interests or mistaken common perceptions. It’s like leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse,” they said.
“We are urging Californian lawmakers to carefully consider the concerns in the letter and not take their advice from the very industry profiting from the massive harm visited on Australia’s kangaroos every night.
Read or download the letter at www.kangaroosatrisk.org