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For Immediate Release: August 22, 2005

Contact: lauren Ornelas at 530/759-8482
Video and photos available

Kangaroo Populations Crash as Commercial Killing Continues and California Politician Seeks to Kill Legal Protection for the Animals

As a California Assemblyman tries to end the state’s long-standing prohibition on the sale of kangaroo skins and body parts, the Australian government has released figures showing that kangaroo populations there are declining rapidly.

Despite warnings from animal welfare groups that kangaroos are under severe pressure from drought and commercial killing, the Australian government’s officially sanctioned slaughter for meat and skin exports has continued unabated. The result is that populations of the main target species, the Eastern Grey kangaroo, have crashed by 63 percent in just three years, according figures obtained by Viva! from Australia’s Department of the Environment and Heritage. Red kangaroo numbers have collapsed by 55 percent and Wallaroos (Euros) by 54 percent. The species with the smallest drop is the Western Grey, the least abundant of all the targeted species, which is down about nine percent.

“These numbers are shocking, especially when you consider that Assembly Member Mervyn Dymally is authoring a bill that would gut California’s long-standing protections of kangaroos!, said lauren Ornelas, US Campaigns Director for Viva!USA.

Since 1970, kangaroo skins and meat have been banned in the State of California to protect their numbers. However, since 2003, at least four bills have been introduced to change this law. Adidas, the German-based company that uses kangaroo skins for its soccer cleats, has been lobbying in support of these bills.

Red kangaroo numbers have fallen from 17.5 million to under eight million, Eastern Greys have dropped from nearly 30 million to just over 11 million, and Wallaroos are down from nearly seven million to just over three million. There are a little over three million Western Greys left. In real terms, this means that there are now 28 million fewer kangaroos in the areas used for commercial hunting than just three years ago. Despite this, a further 3.9 million animals have been earmarked for killing in 2005--a drop of only half-a-million from 2004. This figure takes no account of the hundreds of thousands of baby ”Joeys,” who are either left to die from starvation or are removed from their dead mother’s pouches and are clubbed to death with iron pipes.

“The collapse in kangaroo numbers was inevitable once a combination of rampant exploitation and drought came together,” says Juliet Gellatley, Viva!’s International Director. Everything we have warned against is coming to pass, so we call on Adidas, the world’s biggest user of kangaroo skin, to drag itself into the 21st century and put animals and ecology before profit.  And we urge the public not to buy anything that comes from a kangaroo.”

Notes for Editors: Images of kangaroos and kangaroo shooting are available from Viva!USA. www.vivausa.org.