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

An artist's rendering of the recomposition facility. MOLT Studios

Washington became the first U.S. state to legalize human composting Tuesday, offering residents a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of their remains, AFP reported.

Read More Show Less
Mr.TinDC / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Adda Bjarnadottir, MS

Many nutrients are essential for good health.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
albedo20 / Flickr

By Pat Thomas

Throughout the U.S., major food brands are trying to get rid of GMO ingredients — not necessarily for the right reasons, but because nearly half of consumers say they avoid them in their food, primarily for health reasons.

But the CEO of Impossible Foods, purveyor of the Impossible Burger, is bucking that trend.

Read More Show Less
People in more than 100 countries are expected to take part in well over 1,000 strikes on May 24 to demand climate action from their governments. @ExtinctionR / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Two months after what was reportedly the largest international climate demonstration ever, young people around the world are expected to make history again on Friday with a second global climate strike.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Asian elephants frolic in Kaudulla Wewa at Kaudulla National Park in central Sri Lanka. David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

When it comes to saving some of the planet's largest animals, a group of researchers says that old methods of conservation just won't cut it anymore.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

A low-fat diet that prioritizes eating healthier foods like fruits and vegetables each day could lower the risk a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer, according to a multi-decade study published this month.

Read More Show Less
smcgee / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Several New York City Starbucks exposed customers to a potentially deadly pesticide, two lawsuits filed Tuesday allege.

Read More Show Less