Overwhelming Majority of Massachusetts Voters Favor Ban on Ivory and Rhino Horn Ban

Mass. Bill Hearing Follows Win in Washington State on Threatened Species Protection Measure  

Nov. 17, 2015 (Boston) – As legislators convened to hear testimony, a coalition of organizations released survey data demonstrating that an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts voters favor the proposed ban of ivory and rhino horns, also known as S.440.

According to the survey, conducted October 15 through October 17 with 1,022 Massachusetts voters, 87 percent favor legislation that would prohibit the sale of ivory and rhino horns. Between 2010 and 2012, poachers killed approximately 100,000 elephants for their ivory. All five rhino species are currently threatened with worldwide extinction. The proposed legislation ensures that the Bay State stops playing a role in the illegal trade of ivory and rhino horns.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • 86 percent of voters support the proposed legislation after learning that it would prevent ivory traffickers from exploiting federal loopholes and ensure that strong state laws are in place to close these loopholes;
  •  When told that the illegal ivory trade is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides transnational organized crime and militant groups and terrorist networks in Africa with a source of income, close to 90 percent of voters support the legislation;
  •  Even when informed of opponents’ arguments against the bill, a solid majority of those polled still support the proposed ban on ivory and rhino horn sales, indicating that conservation and species survival is a high priority for citizens of Massachusetts.

Stephanie Harris, the Massachusetts state director of The HSUS said: “Clearly, Massachusetts voters are in favor of tough new laws against the sale of ivory under any circumstances and we hope that the legislators will take their concerns seriously. A growing number of states and countries are considering similar measures to stop the pernicious trade in ivory and rhino horns. We urge the Massachusetts legislature not to lag behind and buck the national and international momentum to save elephants and rhinos.”

Testimony on the bill, proposed by State Sen. Jason M. Lewis, was heard by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on Tuesday, Nov. 17.  In addition to The HSUS and Humane Society International, supporters of the bill include Born Free USA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Zoo New England and other major animal and conservation organizations.

California, New Jersey and New York have enacted laws to prohibit the in-state sales of ivory and rhino horns in 2014 and 2015.  New York and California were the two largest retail markets for ivory according to a 2008 report.  The same report showed that Boston ranked as the 7th largest nationally.  In November 2015, Washington State voters passed a ballot initiative with over 70 percent voting for the measure prohibiting the sale of parts and products of 10 types of animals including elephants.  In September 2015, President Obama and China’s President Xi, during Xi’s state visit to Washington, announced a joint commitment to “halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.” 

Media Contact: Chloe Detrick, cdetrick@humanesociety.org, 202-658-9091