California is the only state that intends to prohibit the sale of alligator or crocodile products under an out-dated Penal Code. The ban’s origin dates back to 1967 when there was concern that the American alligator and other species of crocodiles were at risk of extinction. California responded with a law to protect the animal that included banning the importation or distribution of alligators and crocodiles in the state.
Today, the American alligator and the other commercially traded crocodilians in the luxury market have completely recovered from endangered species status. Trade conservation programs established by international research organizations and wildlife enforcement agencies in the nearly 200 participating countries have restored the wild populations of these species to over five million. In addition, mainstream conservation organizations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the United Nations Environment Programme and others 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.
If California allows the prohibition of alligator and crocodile products, it will be detrimental to more than 50 years of wildlife conservation of crocodilians, wetlands restoration in the southeastern United States, and habitat protection for many species of birds, mammals, and fish that depend on private landowners to conserve the marsh with income derived from the alligator farming trade.
A group of private businesses representing all aspects of the alligator and crocodile industry supply chain has filed a lawsuit in federal court to fight to keep the sale of leather and leather goods legal.