Center for a Humane Economy Files Legal Actions to Halt Illicit Sales of Kangaroo-Skin Soccer Cleats in California

Scott Edwards

General Counsel

In recent weeks, the Center for a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action filed two lawsuits within three months against two largescale soccer retailers flouting California law by selling soccer cleats made from kangaroo skins.

The state’s Penal Code prohibits the import and sale of kangaroo parts. But investigators with Animal Wellness Action and its sister organization, the Center for a Humane Economy, were able to purchase cleats made from kangaroo skins from multiple stores owned by Riverside County-based Soccer Wearhouse Inc., and Los Angeles County-based Soccer Shop USA.

The origins of kangaroo skin soccer cleats are particularly cruel. Hunters in Australia kill 2 million kangaroos each year in their native habitats, sending the kangaroo skins to Nike, Puma and adidas to make shoes and sell them across the United States where they are legal, except for in the sunshine state. Purchasing kangaroo skin cleats supports the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wild animals in the world.

Kangaroo shooter Steven O’Donnell rests his .223 calibre rifle on the window of his truck as he searches for kangaroos on a property located on the outskirts of Australia’s capital city Canberra March 23, 2013. O’Donnell, a professional plumber, shoots kangaroos on local farmer’s properties around three times a week as part of the annual cull, running from March until the end of July, which involves the legal shooting and tagging of thousands of eastern grey kangaroos per year in the Australian Capital Territory. Picture taken March 23, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray (AUSTRALIA)[/caption]

As horrific as the shooting of millions of adult kangaroos is, the abuse visited on joeys – 400,000-500,000 each year — is even worse. These defenseless young animals are yanked from the pouches and killed by blunt force trauma to the head, often with a violent swing against the bumper of a truck. Australia’s killing code stipulates that it is okay for the babies to linger in pain for a full three minutes before death ends their suffering.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife has done little to enforce the ban on kangaroo skin shoe sales, so our team decided to take alleged violators to court themselves, filing their first lawsuit in June against three stores owned by Soccer Wearhouse with legal action pending in Riverside County Superior Court. The second suit was filed in August in Los Angeles Superior Court against three stores belonging to Soccer Shop USA.

Our investigations and legal actions were extensively covered in a front-page, local section article by a seasoned environmental reporter for the The Los Angeles Times, which was promptly followed by an August 15 LA Times editorial, “California bans the sale of shoes made from dead kangaroos. It’s the law, so enforce it.”

We will continue to monitor stores throughout California, while encouraging consumers to make humane choices and buy synthetic soccer cleats.

Purchasing kangaroo skin cleats supports the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wild animals in the world.