On Thursday, the state of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the state of California over a law banning the sale and import of alligator products. According to the lawsuit, in addition to hurting an important industry in Louisiana, it could also hurt the state’s wetlands.
“Far from protecting American alligators, the Challenged Laws – if allowed to go into force – would severely disrupt a well-functioning conservation and regulatory program that depends on sales of alligator products to support conservation and management efforts,” the lawsuit states.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has previously stated that the “best long-run hope” for the conservation of the American alligator and other crocodilians is a program of conservation that “must include vigorous enforcement of protective laws, strong control of international trade, and economic … incentives for the nations and peoples involved to institute such controls.”
“California has nevertheless attempted to destroy the market for American alligator products notwithstanding the fact that no such alligators live in California,” the lawsuit says.
Louisiana asserts in the lawsuit that the alligator industry provides important economic incentives for landowners to assist in the conservation of the American alligator. Because much of the state’s coastal habitat is privately owned, the state relies on those private landowners to protect the wetlands and marshlands that provide an adequate habitat for the alligators.
To make matters worse, because California’s economy is so large, product laws and standards instituted in the Sunshine State often become the de facto national standard. This could limit the sale of Louisiana alligator products across the country. In fact, Louisiana says that the ban, which isn’t yet in place, has already had a detrimental effect on the sale of alligator products. The price of alligator hides has dropped, and alligator farmers have begun reducing their investments – putting a strain on Louisiana’s economy.
According to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission – which maintains and controls large areas of alligator habitat – over 300,000 alligators are harvested each year in Louisiana, from a combination of farm and wild sources. the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is one of three plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit. Other listed plaintiffs include the Louisiana Landowners Association – whose members own around two million acres of land mostly south of Interstate 10 and who receive substantial income from the sale of alligators and alligator eggs – and Delacroix Corporation – a Delaware company whose principal place of business in New Orleans. Delacroix Corp. owns around 100,000 acres of American alligator habitat in Lousiana.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Big Easy Magazine. Her work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_