Close the Massachusetts ivory trade:
An Act relative to ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking
Sponsors: Senator Jason Lewis, Representative Lori Ehrlich
Status: S. 496, H. 772: Bills have been referred to the committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture; public hearing scheduled for September 10 at the Massachusetts State House starting at 10am in Room A-2
Why is this bill needed?
Elephants and rhinos are in crisis and Massachusetts can help save them from extinction by stemming the trade in these species
Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory — an average of 96 elephants per day, or one every 15 minutes. All five extant rhino species are threatened with extinction, with merely 28,000 remaining worldwide. These bills would clamp down on illegal ivory and rhino horns sales by limiting the sale, trade and distribution of ivory and rhino horn within Massachusetts. Learn more here.
Lax Massachusetts laws create a loophole for recently-strengthened federal laws
In 2016, the U.S. enacted a near-total ban on commercial ivory trade. However, the ban only applies to interstate commerce, leaving the Massachusetts intrastate market open and largely unregulated.
This bill strengthens state-level protections by largely mirroring the federal law and applying the federal standard to intrastate trade in Massachusetts. Among other things, it restricts the trade of most ivory products with exemptions for legally acquired products with less than 200 grams of ivory, legally acquired antiques over 100 years old, and musical instruments containing less than 200 grams of ivory.
Massachusetts plays a significant role in the global ivory market
The International Fund for Animal Welfare ranked Boston fourth among US cities in a study of ivory advertised on Craigslist.
The Boston-Cambridge market has been ranked as the seventh-largest metropolitan ivory market in the U.S.
A 2014 Boston Globe article, “Massachusetts sees brisk trade in illicit ivory,” documents illegal ivory sales happening in our state.
What would this bill do?
Limit the ivory and rhino horn trade in Massachusetts to ensure that the Commonwealth no longer plays a role in illegal trafficking and instead does its part to help stem an unprecedented global poaching crisis.
Bring Massachusetts commerce laws in line with federal interstate commerce regulations.
Impose heavy fines on traffickers and order the seizure of all illegal ivory and rhino horn products upon conviction.
Establish the Endangered Elephant and Rhino Conservation and Education Fund from penalties assessed under the new law. This Fund will promote conservation and increase education and outreach programs for these species, as well as provide financial rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of violators.
This bill would NOT criminalize the possession of ivory currently owned by Massachusetts residents or prohibit the inheritance or noncommercial gifting of ivory.
National Geographic, Citizens Spur States to Ban in Ivory and Rhino Horn, April 6, 2015
The Daily Item, Ehrlich, Clinton discuss the Elephant in the Room, April 18, 2015
The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Sees Brisk Trade in Illicit Ivory, June 27, 2105