Kangaroo products, including skin and meat, are banned in the state of California. However, there is no federal, US-wide prohibition on either.

Customs inspectors at airports are usually employees of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), both of which are Federal agencies. (By contrast, California Border Protection Station staff checking travellers coming in by road are state employees.)

So the question: if you arrive in California, and a CBP/USDA employee spots a prohibited-in-California-only kangaroo product, will they take any action? Or is this literally not their problem?

Obligatory disclaimer: I'm asking out of curiosity, not advocating breaking the law, and regardless of the answer you risk fines of up to US$5,000 and possible jail time if a California state inspector does show up at the airport.

  • Is it not in CITES? So valid also in US and many other countries). And in such case you should check what are the restrictions. Feb 2 at 10:01
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi Red and eastern grey kangaroos, the "commercial" species, are very far from endangered, there's up to 50 million of them bouncing around when it's wet & lush. Feb 2 at 10:09
  • 2
    Yes, but I find also some flora in CITES is absolutely not endangered, but still on the list. The decision by committee are often not logical. Feb 2 at 10:16
  • I've seen packaged kangaroo meat for sale at a mainstream grocery store in Colorado, so it's surely not a nationwide ban. (Albeit that was a few years ago, but well after 2007.) Feb 3 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


According to California Penal Code § 830.85 :

830.85. Notwithstanding any other law, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and United States Customs and Border Protection officers are not California peace officers.

This would imply that USCIS/CBP staff are not legally able to enforce California state laws, including the one you have referenced. Legally they could likely detain you and hand you over to a California peace officer (eg, Police or Sherriff) if they believed you were in breach of a California law, and indeed this is what they will do for passengers where there is a state warrant issued for their arrest - but it seems very unlikely they would do so in a situation like you described.

However in the case you've mentioned it's largely a moot point. If you look at the article you referenced, it states that the state has " ... banned the sale of kangaroo ...". The relevant legislation is California Penal Code § 653o, which states that it is "unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state". Simply possessing such items is not illegal, nor is bringing them into the state - at least not unless you were bringing in a commercial quantity in which case the first condition may be triggered.

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    Perfect, thanks for digging up the actual state law! Although the putative kangaroo-importer probably still shouldn't jump for joy, since there are federal regulations on importing any kind of animal meat. Feb 2 at 5:59
  • @lambshaanxy And even if there weren't, one would expect CA to place their own inspectors at the ports.
    – Barmar
    Feb 2 at 16:17
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    For what it's worth, the California law most likely has to be written this way in order to be valid and enforceable. The Constitution is very clear that the federal government has the power to regulate interstate and international commerce. State laws which contradict federal decisions (including a federal decision to not have a given rule) regarding interstate or international commerce are invalid and unenforceable.
    – reirab
    Feb 2 at 16:19
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    Note to self, don't resell my Copa Mundials to anyone in California, but at least I can play in a tournament there without getting arrested.
    – shoover
    Feb 2 at 21:25

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