California Bill AB 96 Proposes Strict Ban on Ivory Sales
On Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins and co-author Senator Ricardo Lara introduced AB 96, a bill that would strictly ban ivory sales. This would close loopholes such as crafting fresh ivory to appear antique and selling it as ‘antique.’ The provisions of AB 96 would become operative on July 1, 2016. PRWeb explains:
In a new report commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Elephant Ivory Trafficking in California, USA the investigator examined more than 1,250 ivory items offered for sale by 107 vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He found that up to 90% of the ivory for sale in Los Angeles and approximately 80% in San Francisco was likely illegal under California law—much of it advertised as antiques and/or crafted to look older so it would appear legal, though the pieces were more likely from recently-killed elephants. Additionally, the incidence of what appears to be ivory of recent manufacture roughly doubled from approximately 25% in 2006 to about 50% in 2014.
AB 96 would prohibit a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn, except as specified under very limited educational and scientific circumstances, and would make this prohibition enforceable by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The bill would make a violation of this provision a misdemeanor subject to specified graduated criminal penalties. In addition to the specified criminal penalties, the bill would authorize the department to impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for a violation of this provision or any rule, regulation, or order adopted pursuant to this provision.
An average of 96 elephants a day are slaughtered in Africa so that their ivory can be sold, mostly in China and the US. A good deal of ivory comes into the US in personal luggage or by other means. The linked study is worth the read. The abstract (pdf):
Investigators comprehensively surveyed commercial vendors selling ivory in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, which previous surveys identified as the U.S. cities with the highest proportions of potentially illegal ivory pieces and the largest ivory markets overall, behind New York City. The data collection for this study was carried out between March 15 and April 11, 2014. A total of over 1,250 ivory items offered for sale by 107 vendors was seen in California, with 777 items and 77 vendors in Los Angeles and well over 473 ivory items and 30 vendors in San Francisco. In Los Angeles, between 77% and 90% of the ivory seen was likely illegal under California law (i.e., post1977) and between 47% and 60% could have been illegal under federal law. In San Francisco, approximately 80% of the ivory was likely illegal under California law and 52% could have been illegal under federal law. There is a much higher incidence of what appears to be ivory of recent manufacture in California, roughly doubling from approximately 25% in 2006 to about half in 2014. In addition, many of the ivory items seen for sale in California advertised as antiques (i.e., more than 100 years old) appear to be more likely from recently killed elephants. Most of the ivory products surveyed appear to have originated in East Asia. While consumer demand for ivory items remains high, there are significantly fewer vendors in California selling ivory items than in 2006. Finally, both federal and state law enforcement of existing ivory laws in California appears to be minimal and there is widespread confusion among vendors about what constitutes the legal and illegal sale of ivory.