Quantcast

California Becomes Third U.S. State to Ban Ivory Trade

With a quick stroke of his pen, California's Gov. Brown signed into law yesterday AB 96, thus eliminating the third largest ivory market in the country and joining New York and New Jersey in banning intrastate ivory trade. The bill passed the State Senate by a vote of 26-14 and the State Assembly by a vote of 62-14 earlier this month.

According to an NRDC-commissioned undercover investigation of California's ivory markets, up to 90 percent of the ivory for sale in Los Angeles and approximately 80 percent of the ivory for sale in San Francisco is likely illegal under California law, meaning that it was harvested relatively recently and thus could be linked to the elephant poaching crisis now gripping Africa. The report also found that the proportion of likely illegal ivory in California has roughly doubled—from approximately 25 percent in 2006 to about 50 percent in 2014.

Fortunately, AB96—which is named for the number of elephants killed every day in Africa—will put an end to this. The bill, which was introduced by California State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and California State Sen. Ricardo Lara, will crack down on California's ivory market and, in turn, the demand for ivory that is fueling poaching. It will also serve as a role model for China—the world's top ivory-consuming country—which recently announced plans to phase out its domestic ivory market to combat elephant poaching.

Current California law allows the purchase and sale of ivory imported prior to 1977, which has created a parallel illegal market and made the law nearly impossible to enforce. AB 96 fixes this by eliminating the pre-1977 loophole in California's ivory law and banning the sale, offer for sale, possession with intent to sell and importation with intent to sell of elephant, mammoth, narwhal, whale, walrus and hippo ivory, along with rhinoceros horn. It also increases penalties for traffickers to up to roughly $50,000 and/or one year in prison. The bill contains limited exceptions for antique musical instruments that have proper documentation showing they're old and antique objects comprised of less than 5 percent ivory, as the vast majority of the illegal ivory trade involves objects made entirely or almost entirely of ivory. Scientific and educational institutions will also continue to be able to buy and sell ivory with certain restrictions.

AB 96 will become effective July 1, 2016. After that, hopefully we'll be able to walk around places like San Francisco's Wharf and Chinatown without the gruesome sight of carved ivory tusks in the store windows. In the meantime, we'll be assessing opportunities for similar legislation in other states. On the federal level, we'll also be encouraging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to strengthen its proposed rule on the interstate ivory trade and ensuring that it doesn't bend to the wishes of the National Rifle Association and weaken these planned regulations.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

10 Cutest Wildlife Photos in Celebration of World Habitat Day

Greenpeace: The Truth Behind the World’s Largest Tuna Company

Endangered Fur Seals Dying at Alarming Rate Along California Coast

Supermoon Sparked Rhino Killing Spree as Poaching Numbers Skyrocket

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less