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Momentum! Washington State Moves to Curb Illegal Ivory Trade

Photo of Elephants

Two weeks into 2015, it's already proving to be a promising year for combatting the illegal ivory trade on the West Coast. Just days after California lawmakers introduced a bill to close illegal ivory loopholes in the state, Washington state has now followed suit with bipartisan legislation unveiled Wednesday (January 14). 

The new bill, co-sponsored by State Reps. Eric Pettigrew (D), Vincent Buys (R) and Joe Fitzgibbon (D), prohibits the sale, purchase and trafficking of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn. Exemptions include antiques verified to be at least 100 years old and musical instruments manufactured before 1976.  

Lawmakers are also calling for harsher penalties for illegal ivory offenders: The felony trafficking of $250 or more in ivory products could result in up to 10 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. Lesser amounts could also carry stiffer penalties. (No word yet on a companion bill in the state senate, according to house aides.)

Similar ivory bills were passed last year in New Jersey and New York (one of the nation’s largest illegal ivory markets). Many existing ivory laws are too weak, allowing for the laundering of poached ivory falsely represented by sellers as antique and legal. In California, a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that as much as 90 percent of ivory sold in major markets such as San Francisco and Los Angeles is illegal.

WildAid is working alongside our wildlife partners in support of state legislatures taking crucial steps to end the illegal ivory trade. Stay tuned to this blog for further updates. 

Live in Washington? Consider thanking these state representatives for their bold action on behalf of wildlife! 

-Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37th District): 206.587.5543; eric.pettigrew@leg.wa.gov

-Rep. Vincent Buys (R-42nd District): 360.786,7854; vincent.buys@leg.wa.gov and @VincentBuys on Twitter. 

-Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th District): 360.786.7952; fitzgibbon.joe@leg.wa.gov and @JoeFitzgibbon on Twitter.

Full text of the bill can be found here

H/T: Susan Wyatt, KING 5 News - Western Washington

Photo by Peter Knights/WildAid