The move is the latest step in the Obama administration’s fight against wildlife trafficking.
By Jani Actman
PUBLISHED JUNE 3, 2016
Say you find an old elephant ivory trinket in your grandmother’s attic that no one wants. How can you legally get rid of it?
According to new rules announced Thursday, there aren’t many options—at least if you were hoping to make a buck off the item.
The regulations, which take effect on July 6, amount to a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory. Current law allows for the sale of ivory and ivory products in limited cases where the seller can prove the ivory is old and was lawfully imported. But the new rules further restrict exports and sales across state lines, as well as limit ivory trophy imports to two per year, per hunter. Ivory trophy imports are currently unlimited.
“Today’s bold action underscores the United States’ leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it’s having on wild populations,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in a press release.
Poachers kill some 30,000 elephants a year in order to feed the global demand for ivory, with China by far the largest consumer, according to a 2010 report. The United States is among the world's largest consumers of wildlife and remains a significant ivory market, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.
According to the agency, wildlife traffickers have exploited previous regulations allowing for a legal trade in ivory and the new rules will go a long way in helping law enforcement more easily distinguish legal from illegal ivory.
They also mark another step toward fulfilling President Barack Obama’s 2013 executive order to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. Since then, the administration has inched toward shutting down the country’s elephant ivory market. Thursday’s announcement marks another milestone, and it fulfills an agreement with China made in September to restrict each nation’s domestic ivory trade. (China has yet to take any significant public steps toward that goal.)
This brings us back to that ivory trinket dilemma.