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Judge continues halt of California's ban on gator products

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 15 October 2020
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — California’s ban on selling alligator products probably violates federal laws and the state cannot enforce it while various legal challenges remain in court, a federal judge has ruled.

The state of Louisiana and companies in California, Florida and Texas are suing the state of California over its decision to ban the import and sale of alligator products, saying the ban will hurt an important industry and ultimately could hurt alligator and crocodile populations.

“We are encouraged by the court’s decision. We know this is the first step and not the last. But it gives Louisiana’s vital alligator industry the ability to continue operating in California and beyond,” Bill Hogan, chair of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, said in an emailed statement.

Companies that make and use alligator and crocodile leather and ranchers in Louisiana and Florida had filed suit Dec. 10 against the 2019 law, and Louisiana landowners had joined the state commission in another filed Dec. 12. Chief District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of California’s Eastern District consolidated them in Wednesday's order against enforcement.

The California Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to a call and email Thursday requesting comment on Mueller's order, which follows a temporary order that halted enforcement in December. California's law also covers products made from two crocodile species — Nile and saltwater — which also can be sold legally under an international conservation treaty and U.S. laws.

Louisiana and the other plaintiffs made a strong showing that federal law, including the Endangered Species Act, controls trade in those products and preempts California from barring trade in them, Mueller wrote. She rejected California's argument that it was only regulating trade within...
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