Early voting is underway as Initiative 1401, “The Washington Animal Trafficking Initiative,” goes to the voters for approval. The Initiative’s proponents are led by so-called animal “rights” groups and heavily funded by the co-founder of Microsoft, billionaire Paul Allen. Besides being misleading, I-1401 will punish law-abiding citizens who collect ordinary items, including antiques, artwork, jewelry, knives, firearms and accessories, furniture and many other lawfully owned and obtained items that contain ivory or any other “covered animal” part or product. Even worse, this proposed law contains no indication on how the prohibitions will curb illegal animal poaching and the trade in protected animal products outside of the United States.
Federal law contains extensive provisions regarding the import, possession and trade in endangered species, including animal parts. Regarding elephant ivory, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long presumed that most ivory in the U.S. was legally imported and that its sale in the U.S. would not increase poaching. Washington State law protects local wildlife, and already has a prohibition on the possession of any animal product from another country where the wildlife is known to have been illegally hunted or killed.
With few exceptions, this 16-page Initiative will ban legal transactions (sales, trades, rentals and more) if the transaction involves a product containing elephant ivory or any prohibited animal part– even if the item was legally crafted decades ago, was legally acquired, and has been legally possessed. In addition to excessive penalties, the enforcement mechanisms in the Initiative allow the government to seize and sell or donate valued personal property that contains the prohibited parts or products.
While it claims to stop the trafficking of animals threatened with extinction, Initiative 1401 will punish honest Washington citizens by making their lawful property worthless, and make “traffickers” out of those who attempt to buy or sell property containing any part of a “covered animal species.”
When voting early or on November 3, 2015, vote “NO” on Initiative 1401. Tell your family, friends, fellow sportsmen and sportswomen to do the same!