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Judge Temporarily Blocks Ban That Would Harm Louisiana Alligator Industry

BATON ROUGE, La. – A federal judge in California has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of that state’s effort to ban the sale and importation of alligator and crocodile products, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced Friday.

California’s ban, which would devastate Louisiana’s lucrative alligator product industry, was scheduled to go into effect on Jan.1, 2020. Louisiana officials also worried this ban would harm coastal conservation efforts associated with the maintenance of alligator habitats.

The Louisiana Attorney General’s office filed the lawsuit earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to prohibit the ban from taking effect at the request of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The federal court will hear the Commission’s motion for a preliminary injunction on April 24, 2020.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, “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.”

Commission Chairman Al Sunseri said, “I am encouraged to see the court is taking a hard look at the irreparable harm California’s alligator ban will impose on our industry and Louisiana’s coastal conservation efforts. I hope this order gives the industry the confidence it needs to know that we are fighting for it.”

Louisiana’s alligator industry, under the guidance of LDWF and its restoration programs, has brought the alligator population from near extinction to nearly 3 million alligators in the wild and on farms in Louisiana.

LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said, “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.”

Any person who is subject to enforcement of Section 653o in violation of the temporary restraining order is encouraged to report the incident to Deputy Solicitor General Scott St. John, stjohnj@ag.louisiana.gov. The case is captioned Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission v. Becerra , No. 2:19-cv-02488-KJM-CKD (E.D. Cal). To see the full TRO, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/page_wildlife/32664-Alligator%20Hunting/17_2019.12.23_stipulation_and_tro.pdf.