California to Continue Sales of Alligator and Crocodilian Products
LDWF Management Program Demonstrates Beneficial Sustained Use
Sept. 25, 2014 -- Alligator boots, handbags and other leather goods products can continue to be sold throughout California following passage of Assembly Bill 2075, sponsored by Luis Alejo and signed by Governor Gerry Brown on Sept. 18.
The bill extends the sunset clause on previously passed legislation to January 1, 2020.
California was the only state in the US that, prior to 2006, prohibited the sale of alligator or crocodile products under an out-dated Penal Code. That code was initially adopted when the Endangered Species Act was passed by the U.S. Congress, almost 50 years ago.
In 2006, the state of Louisiana through the Department of Wildlife Fisheries (LDWF) first challenged the California prohibition by proving the Louisiana alligator’s recovery was working and evidence of sustainable use of a renewable natural resource.
The California ban was lifted by legislation that established a sunset clause to allow legal sale of alligator and some crocodile products which has now been extended three times (2006, 2009 and 2014) with help from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Crocodile Specialist Group (IUCN,CSG), California Retailers Association, Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies representing all 50 state wildlife departments, conservationists and trade representatives from about two dozen countries who also sustainably manage crocodilians.
“It is important for the public and policymakers to better understand the benefits of sustainable use to the conservation of wetlands and natural habitats and to the communities that are supported by a viable alligator industry,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We are committed to an alligator trade that is legal, sustainable and verifiable.”
Mainstream conservation organizations around the world have also recognized the crocodilian trade for more than four decades as proactively addressing research, management, enforcement, compliance, trade monitoring and conservation education.
The Louisiana alligator currently generates more than $70 million a year in raw value from hides and meat that now exceeds $1 billion over the last four decades of total economic benefit to the state of Louisiana. The alligator accounts for over 50 percent of all classic leather worldwide and along with several other crocodiles is widely recognized by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Treaty, with 182 member nations, as a model sustainable use program. The Louisiana alligator’s “Marsh to Market” story captures economic incentives that benefit conservation and communities.
“It is once again clear that survival of the most critically endangered crocodilians in the world depends on stopping habitat loss and/or finding incentives for local communities to overcome their strengthening reluctance to re-introduce predatory crocodiles, even if suitable habitat is available or restored,” said Dr. Grahame Webb, Chairman of IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group. “Conversely, the model crocodilian programs, where wild populations are secure and recovered, are the programs where sustainable use creates commercial benefits (economic incentives), for local communities and governments to invest in the conservation of crocodilians and their natural, wetland habitats.”
Louisiana’s alligator population has recovered from a low of about 100,000 in 1962 when hunting was banned. LDWF’s Alligator Management Program monitored the species recovery and began a gradual return to licensed harvest. In 1972, the alligator season was opened only in Cameron Parish and lasted 13 days. Other parishes were gradually added until the season became statewide in 1981. Louisiana’s wild and farm alligator harvests currently exceed 300,000 animals annually, while the wild population level (based on aerial nest surveys) remains stable at over two million alligators.
For more information on LDWF’s Alligator Management Program, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/alligator-program or contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or firstname.lastname@example.org .