Close the Massachusetts ivory trade:
An Act to Prevent Trafficking in Ivory and Rhino Horns

Sponsors: Senator Jason Lewis, Representative Lori Ehrlich
Status: H. 774, S. 496: Bills has been referred to the committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

Why is this bill needed?

African elephants and rhinos are in crisis and Mass. can play a role 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 extant five rhino species are threatened with extinction, with merely 28,000 remaining worldwide.  Learn more here. 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. 

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 and doesn't regulate trade within a state. Leaving the Massachusetts market open and largely unregulated and serving as a loophole to the strengthened federal law.

This bill strengthens state-level protections by largely mirroring the federal law and applying the federal standard to intrastate trade in Mass. Among other things, it restricts trade of most ivory products with exemptions for legally acquired products with a small amount (less than 200 grams) of ivory; legally acquired antiques over 100 years old; and musical instruments (containing under 200g of ivory). 

 Massachusetts plays a role in the global ivory market. 

What would this bill do?

  • Limit the ivory and rhino horn trade in Massachusetts to ensure the Commonwealth doesn’t play a role in illegal trafficking and help to 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 possession of ivory currently owned by Mass residents or prohibit inheritance or noncommercial gifts.

Read more:

    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, Swampscott, April 18, 2015.
    The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Sees Brisk Trade in Illicit Ivory, June 27, 2105