LANSING – State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) today introduced legislation creating stronger oversight on the sale of antique ivory and a ban on the sale and import of illegal ivory in Michigan.
“While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has banned importing ivory harvested after 1976 in accordance with a global ban on ivory, they can do little to prevent its trade and sale after it has been smuggled into the country, and that is why I have introduced this legislation,” said Yanez. “Passing our own bill to ban the sale and trade of illegal ivory will add Michigan to the list of states with this law and serve as an example for other states to follow.”
African and Asian elephants, as well as rhinoceros, have come under extreme pressure of extinction due to the rise of the illegal ivory trade. Ivory demand and the increasing price poachers can get for it has spurred the interest of some terrorist organizations to use the sale of ivory to fund their operations. Protecting these endangered animals is reason enough to ban the illegal sale and trade, but stopping a funding mechanism for terrorists is equally urgent.
The United States is second only to China on the list of active illegal ivory trades. States such as New York and New Jersey have passed trade and sale bans. California is strengthening its ban, and Oklahoma is considering passing a ban.
“There is a strong black market for smuggled ivory, and we can fight back by passing state laws that would help strengthen the federal ban that we already have,” said Yanez. “We can’t afford to sit by while these majestic animals are needlessly slaughtered and the proceeds are being used to fund illegal activities. I hope my colleagues will join me and support this bill.”
The bill would not prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of musical instruments, antiques and bequests that may contain amounts of ivory.