Soccer Players Eye California's Kangaroo Ban
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
And I'm Michele Norris with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
SIEGEL: There's a California law that bars the sale of the dead body or any part or product thereof of a list of more than 30 animal species from sable antelopes to zebras, and that list includes kangaroos. Like New York, and unlike the rest of the states, California bans goods made from kangaroos even though federal law doesn't. Here's the rub.
MARK MONASCH: A lot of the higher-end soccer shoes are made out of kangaroo hide because it is a softer, stronger leather than basic calfskin and much more desirable for soccer players because you can get the - could touch on the ball, which is very important.
SIEGEL: That's Mark Monasch, who owns Kickers Soccer Shop in Belmont, California. You carry shoes, soccer shoes made of kangaroo hide?
MONASCH: Yes, we do.
SIEGEL: It's against the law in California.
MONASCH: Well, that's what I'm understanding, but it's a law that - it's an older law because kangaroos were on the endangered species list, but are no longer considered endangered, the type that are used for these shoes anyway.
SIEGEL: Mark Monasch, the soccer shop owner, hopes that they will prevail or if not, that the state law will pass taking kangaroos off the list because...
MONASCH: Fifty percent or more of this is probably shoes made of kangaroo leather.
SIEGEL: You're saying that you're almost unaware that there was a ban on selling kangaroo products?
MONASCH: I was until recently. Yes, that's true.
SIEGEL: A colleague of mine showed me a Web site for Cabelas outfitters, where they're selling kangaroo featherweight uninsulated boots. And it says here, due to state law, these boots cannot be shipped to California. I mean, they seemed be aware of the restriction.
MONASCH: Yeah, apparently so.
SIEGEL: Live and learn. If retailers don't even know about the ban, and if they've been blithely violating it, then California Fish and Game obviously isn't enforcing it so strictly. And spokesman Steve Martarano says that's true. With just a couple of hundred game wardens for the whole state, they have bigger fish to fry.
STEVE MARTARANO: We've got some recruitment problems and so we have to prioritize pretty much everything we do. It's safe to say that this isn't a priority.
SIEGEL: One last twist here, while many high-end soccer players favor kangaroo shoes, California's highest-end player has sworn off them. David Beckham, in deference to his wife's vegetarianism, wears synthetics.
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