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LDWF supports Calif. legislation that helps La.’s alligator industry

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries supports California legislation that seeks to amend a law that would damage Louisiana businesses’ chances to earn millions of dollars in the sale of alligator-related products.

At issue is the end or sunset of a temporary exemption in law that allows the sale and importation of alligator parts, including skins and meat into the Golden State. The current exemption for alligator and crocodilian species has been renewed several times over the years, but is set to expire in 2020.

If the exemption expires and the ban on these products is imposed, Louisiana’s multimillion-dollar alligator industry will lose California’s lucrative high-end fashion market for the sale of skins used for shoes, boots, and handbags. It will also deprive the industry from using California ports as a method of international distribution, specifically to Asia.

A California Assembly member introduced a bill (AB527) in February to eliminate the impending prohibition, claiming that some patients would be denied new life-saving medicines derived from alligator and crocodile immune systems if the ban remains.

The bill by Republican Assembly member Randy Voepel would permanently legalize the importation of alligator products.

A number of groups opposing the ban have claimed it would hurt global habitat conservation efforts for alligators. They say incentive-driven conservation of the alligator around the world relies upon ensuring the economic viability of alligator products.

LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said he fully supports the proposed legislation. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB527.

Montoucet, a former alligator farmer, said: “Louisiana has done a great job of regenerating and managing our alligator population, habitat and industry. All three are sustainable. We wholeheartedly support the assembly member’s bill.”

The ban’s origin dates back to 1967 when there was concern that the American alligator was at risk of extinction. California responded with a law to protect the animal that included banning the importation or distribution of alligators in the state, but have subsequently delayed the ban with a series of temporary exemptions. Alligators are not native to California.

Since then, successful conservation efforts had resulted in the removal of the alligator from the endangered species list in 1987. Estimates are that Louisiana has the highest alligator population – nearly 2 million – in the country.