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NEW ORLEANS -- 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.

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 Mueller of California's Eastern District consolidated them in Wednesday's order against enforcement.

The lawsuits contend the ban will hurt an important industry and ultimately could hurt alligator and crocodile populations.

Louisiana and the other plaintiffs made a strong showing that federal law controls trade in those products and preempts California from barring trade in them, Mueller wrote.

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