California representative introduces bill to strengthen ban on the sale of ivory

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Toni G. Atkins gets a Pack of Compassion Award for this effort. The following is a full release from the speaker of the assembly’s office:

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Speaker Toni G. Atkins Introduces Bill to Protect Elephants and Rhinos from Poachers

SACRAMENTO–In response to the global wildlife crisis in which an average of 96 elephants are being slaughtered daily for their ivory in Africa, Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins today introduced AB 96 to close loopholes that prevent the effective enforcement of existing California law prohibiting the sale of ivory. Senator Ricardo Lara is the Principal Co-author of the bill.

“The slaughter of elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns is as senseless as it is cruel,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “California recognized that and enacted a law almost 40 years ago to end the ivory trade here, but that law needs strengthening in order to be effective. AB 96 closes the loophole that allows the illegal ivory trade to continue to flourish and adds real enforcement teeth to the law so California can do our part to end the slaughter.”

“Elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered and mutilated at an unprecedented rate and driven to extinction due to demand for their tusks and horns,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “If we are serious about protecting endangered species and ensuring that they will be here for future generations to appreciate, California must take a decisive step in stopping, once and for all, the sale or trade of ivory and rhinos horns.”

International, federal and state laws are all being strengthened to protect iconic species from cruelty and extinction. The states of New York and New Jersey recently enacted strong prohibitions on intra-state ivory and rhino-horn commerce and the federal government has proposed strengthened ivory trade and import regulations.

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.

AB 96 is supported by a host of community, environmental, and animal protection groups including the NRDC, The Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International, Wildlife Conservation Society, California Zoo & Aquarium Association, Oakland Zoo, and the Asian Pacific Alliance for Wildlife & Sustainability. Additionally, nearly a dozen state lawmakers including wildlife policy committee chairs in both the Assembly and the Senate have already signed on as co-authors of AB 96.

The provisions of AB 96 would become operative on July 1, 2016.

What others are saying:

“We are grateful to Speaker Atkins and Senator Lara for pursuing closure of the loophole in California’s decades-old ivory ban that has allowed this pernicious trade to flourish in our state,” said Jennifer Fearing, a consultant with The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. “Californians don’t support trade here in products that put elephants and rhinos in jeopardy of cruelty and extinction.”

“It’s shocking how much ivory is being sold in California. Up to 90% of the ivory being sold in Los Angeles and 80% in San Francisco is likely illegal, according to an independent study commissioned by NRDC, with much of it being altered to look older so that it will appear legal,” said Elly Pepper, an NRDC wildlife advocate. “Too much ivory is slipping through the cracks. It’s time for California to do more to protect the lives of elephants, and we are thrilled to see the California legislature take this huge step.”

Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Director of the 96 Elephants campaign: “The Wildlife Conservation Society and the 96 Elephants campaign praises Speaker Atkins and Senator Lara for their leadership in moving toward passing a statewide ban on ivory. We are driving these magnificent animals toward extinction across Africa unless we stop the killing of an estimated 96 elephants each day, stop the trafficking and stop the demand for ivory. As long as demand for ivory remains high and enforcement efforts are low, the legal trade will continue to serve as a front for criminal syndicates. A California ban on ivory sales is an important step forward in this global effort to save elephants.”

“Research shows that Asian Pacific Americans are among the strongest supporters of conservation and environmental protection. On behalf of Asian Pacific Americans everywhere, the Asian Pacific Alliance for Wildlife & Sustainability (APAWS) is proud to support Speaker Toni Atkins’ AB 96 to close down illegal ivory trafficking in California that contributes to the cruel global decimation of elephants and other precious wildlife,” stated Judy Ki, chair of APAWS.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Purchasing poaching products particularly putrid

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Those who are buying products made from elephant tusks or rhino horns or any other threatened or endangered species are the root cause of the horrors of poaching.

And now we know that terrorists are funding their operations in part through poaching. So anyone who purchases ivory now or rhino horn products or any poached items have become promoters of terrorists.

Let’s go ahead and tell it like it is. Too many people in countries like China and Vietnam are buying these products in full support of the terrorists. And clueless people in the United States are supporting the horrors too. A 2008 study showed the US is the No. 2 market for ivory.

Are some people here in the US – supposedly the most advanced of nations – really that uneducated? Stop – You don’t need to tell me. I know … I know. It’s true.

It is pure evil in every way. Poaching is driving animals to extinction and killing innocent people in staggering numbers. And it is driven by clueless people who either wrongly believe rhino horns have medicinal value or are so vain and stupid that they value a trinket over the lives of innocent people and animals.

It’s sick and it’s evil.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

IFAW praises New York bill to ban sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn

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The International Fund for Animal Welfare submitted the following press release concerning a bill in New York to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn:

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IFAW Statement on New York Ivory Ban: We Love New York

Washington, D.C. (June 23, 2014) – Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement regarding a bill passed last week by the New York state legislature which bans  the sale and purchase of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn:

“A big victory for endangered elephants and rhinos, as New York enacts a landmark law to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn.

These bans are important tools for regulating, and, we hope, eventually ending the ivory and rhino horn trade. Every 15 minutes on average, an African elephant is slaughtered for its ivory tusks to support a mass consumer demand. Rhinos, which are also poached for their horns, are similarly threatened. The U.S. ranks as one of the largest ivory consumers in the world and New York serves as one its biggest entry points and markets.

Promising regulations are gathering momentum at the federal level. As one of the first states to pass such legislation, New York is carving a path for others to follow.

We love New York’s actions and congratulate and thank our coalition partners in encouraging the passage of these bills.”

To learn more about IFAW’s work to crush the ivory trade, please visit http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/our-work/elephants/ending-ivory-trade.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Hall of Fame drummer drums up support for ivory ban

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I just received the following release from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW):

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Matt Sorum Drums Up Musicians’ Support for U.S. Ivory Ban

(Washington, D.C. – June 4, 2014) – Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, legendary Grammy Award-winning drummer of Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, The Cult and Kings of Chaos, and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) supporter Matt Sorum, penned an open letter urging fellow musicians to support the U.S. government’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which seeks to dramatically reduce the U.S. role in elephant poaching by enacting new rules on ivory trade.

Under the new regulations, owners of ivory objects would still be allowed to own their items, or give them as a non-commercial gift. However, owners (including musicians with instruments that include ivory) would not be allowed to sell them without removing and replacing the ivory first. Additionally, musicians would need to secure proper documentation before they travel with their instruments overseas.

As Sorum noted in the letter, “This is an issue that needs the attention and support of the music community. We need to be a part of the solution, not the problem.  As much as we all love our instruments, they are in the end just things – not worth contributing to the demise of a species.”

Elephants are being poached for their ivory at an alarming rate. The elephant population in Africa has declined up to 95 percent in the last century, and on average, poachers are killing one elephant every fifteen minutes. Some populations are well on the path to extinction.

“Elephants are in crisis. This rule will bring about meaningful action to reduce the amount of illegal ivory smuggled into the country, while helping to protect this dynamic and most intelligent species. But we need the support of many stakeholders to ensure its success,” added Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, IFAW. “We thank Matt for bringing attention to this important issue and hope fellow musicians will band together to protect elephants.”

Sorum is among many celebrities supporting the ivory sale ban. In April, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Dave Matthews, alongside a coalition of businesses and conservation organizations, signed a letter to the Administration commending them for their actions to protect elephants.

To read Sorum’s letter, visit g.ifaw.org/mattsletter. Learn more about IFAW’s work to protect elephants.
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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Troubling animal-welfare news from around the globe

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The week isn’t turning out to be a great one on the Pack News Wire – in terms of news from the animal-welfare front.

IN CHINA: The New York Times reports protections for animals are still far down the road in China, where torturing animals is commonplace and the government looks the other way – entirely. The No. 2 economy on the planet gets a huge F in caring for animals.

The China Animal Protection Law, proposed in 2009, is gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

The NY Times blog post linked above details the horrible dog trade, where they are tortured – stuffed into small cages without food for water for days on the back of trucks, before being thrown off the trucks and beaten to death. The people who engage in this practice are part of an evil club that includes poachers, dog fighters, bear bile farmers, puppy mill operators and anyone who tortures animals for profit or entertainment. Members of Club Evil also include individuals who abuse kids.

How anyone can be this evil is beyond comprehension. As is the case in other countries, I’m sure the majority of the people of China do not support the abuse of animals. But the government seems hell-bent on allowing the suffering to go on.

INTERNATIONAL: At an international summit held in Bangkok, a proposal to grant more protections for polar bears was rejected. This happened at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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Huge News – Thai Prime Minister pledges to end ivory trade

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The World Wildlife Fund reports Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has pledged to work on ending the ivory trade in her country. A petition calling for this move was signed by more than 1.5 million people.

The WWF quotes the Prime Minister as saying –

As a next step we will forward amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end on ivory trade and to be in line with international norms.

The WWF also called Thailand the “world’s largest unregulated ivory market.” So this decision could really save the lives of many endangered elephants.

We can only hope this happens – very soon. Evil acts of greed like this need to be fought everywhere.