Although House Bill 1131 was weakened by various amendments on Tuesday in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, we aren’t out of the woods yet. This misguided attempt to end the illegal ivory trade, by restricting the trade in legal ivory, passed out of committee on Tuesday on an 8 to 5 vote.
Sponsored by state Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37), HB 1131 was introduced with the intent of curbing poaching of elephants in Africa and helping to end the illegal ivory trade. Unfortunately, HB 1131 and its companion bill, SB 5241, sponsored by state Senator Steve Litzow (R-41), would accomplish neither of their purported objectives.
Historically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintained the position that most ivory in the U.S. has been legally imported and that its sale in the U.S. did not materially contribute to the illegal ivory trade. Nevertheless, under HB 1131 (and SB 5241), the sale, purchase, barter, trade and distribution of any ivory or ivory product would be prohibited. Virtually any lawful item containing any amount of ivory, with very limited and narrow exceptions, would be rendered valueless as it would be a gross misdemeanor for you to sell it or for another person to buy it.
The bottom line is: any property made from a lawful product that was lawfully acquired should not be made illegal to sell; such an action is effectively a taking of property without compensation.
Please contact your Senator and Representatives and politely urge them to oppose House Bill 1131 and Senate Bill 5241. If you don’t know who your legislators are, click here. You can also call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to leave a message for your Senator and Representatives.