The California ivory ban reached unprecedented levels when lawmakers voted on Wednesday to expand the ban on elephant ivory, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Under the new ban, it will be illegal to buy or sell ivory in the state of California, regardless of when it was first imported.
“We are on the verge of a major achievement,” said Peter LaFontaine, campaign officer for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “It’s days like this that make me hopeful for the future of these species. California has one of the bigger markets in the country, so California is a major domino to fall to restrict illegal sales.”
The bill, CA-AB96, will “prohibit a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn.”
“We are seeing a poaching crisis that has the potential to impact an entire species of elephants and rhinos,” says Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, a co-sponsor of the bill, according to The World Post.
“Ninety-six elephants are killed every day for their ivory – translating to 35,000 deaths each year,” Atkins said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate. “This species loss is unsustainable and African elephants are being poached at a higher rate than they are being born, which will result in their extinction.”
The Department of Fish and Wildlife would be in charge of enforcing the restrictions under AB96, with each offense of purchasing or selling elephant ivory or rhino horn being a misdemeanor and subject to a $10,000 per violation fine.
The U.S. is the second largest market for ivory and animal products, behind Asia, as reported previously by HNGN. “By tightening domestic controls on trade in elephant ivory, and allowing only very narrow exceptions, we will close existing avenues that are exploited by traffickers and address ivory trade that poses a threat to elephants in the wild,” said Daniel Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.