PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A bill that would ban the sale of kangaroo parts has been introduced in the Oregon Legislature, taking aim at sports apparel manufacturers that use leather from the animals to make their products.
Soccer cleats are one of the only products made from kangaroo leather that are routinely sold in Oregon, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. The measure would impact Nike, which is based in Oregon and the state’s largest employer.
“It’s unconscionable that millions of native wild animals in Australia have been killed for the sake of high-end soccer cleats worn by a subset of elite soccer players,” Democratic Oregon Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who introduced the bill, said in a news release issued Monday by animal rights groups. “I understand this legislation may have financial impact on some Oregon shoe manufacturers, but in the balance Oregon should be standing on the humane side of this issue. There are other materials that can be used in making these high-end cleats.”
In the news release, the Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation welcomed the move.
“It’s time for these shoe manufacturers to evolve their business model to eliminate extreme animal cruelty in their product offerings,” said Rene Tatro, a board member of the Center for a Humane Economy.
Nike didn’t respond to OPB’s request for comment, but the company told ESPN last month that it uses kangaroo leather in a “small portion” of its soccer shoes and that it “works with leather suppliers that source animal skins from processors that use sound animal husbandry and humane treatment, whether farmed, domesticated, or wild managed.”
Oregon’s bill would make it a crime to buy, receive, sell, or commercially exchange “any product containing a part of a dead kangaroo.”
Lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced a similar bill this session. A federal ban on kangaroo products was proposed in the U.S. House in 2021, but was not approved.
The ban on “k-leather” would not be without precedent: California enacted a ban on kangaroo-based products in the 1970s.
The commercial harvest of kangaroos in Australia is legal. More than 1.3 million kangaroos were killed for commercial purposes in the country in 2021, OPB reported, citing the Australia Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. The agency said that number represents less than one-third of the “sustainable quota,” which is the amount it considers could be killed without putting any of the four main kangaroo species at risk.
The U.S. listed several types of kangaroo as “endangered” from the mid-’70s until the mid-’90s, but the animal is considered to have “recovered.”