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African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015 - CALL & WRITE TODAY! Print E-mail

July 16, 2015: Senators Steve Daines (MT) and Lamar Alexander (TN) have introduced S. 1769, the African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015. This is companion legislation to HR 697 in the House of Representatives. These bills would end the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's unilateral moratorium on the trade in lawfully owned ivory, including ivory handled knives. It also strengthens measures to stop elephant poaching in Africa and punishes countries that smuggle illicit ivory.

Please CALL or EMAIL your Representative and Senators and ask them to Co-Sponsor the African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015 (H.R. 697 or S.1769, respectively) to protect both elephants and Americans. You can find your U.S. legislators and send them all an email here: www.democracy.io

This bill is carefully tailored to allow the Administration to combat African elephant poaching and criminal organizations that sell illicit ivory in China. The bill protects innocent Americans who have complied with existing import prohibitions on ivory and the large stocks of ivory that have been in the United States for over 25 years. It protects the owners of knives, firearms, musical instruments, canes and a multitude of other items that include this decades-old legal ivory.

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The bill would specifically allow:

  • Lawfully possessed, raw or worked ivory to be imported or exported for museum displays and personal use;
  • The Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to place a U.S. Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officer in each African country with significant elephant populations;
  • The Secretary of the Interior to certify any country found to be a significant transit or destination point under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act;
  • The continued importation of Sport-hunted elephant trophies from populations listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species; 
  • For the reauthorization of appropriations of not more than $5 million for each of the years 2016-2020, and for these funds to be prioritized for projects designed to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and training of wildlife officials in ivory producing countries for anti-poaching efforts.

The bill would prevent USFWS from promulgating or enforcing regulations designed to criminalize ownership or commercial use of African elephant ivory that has been legally imported into the United States. It would do away with impossible documentation requirements imposed by USFWS Director's Order 210, and it would shift the burden of proof that ivory was illegally imported back to the government.

At the same time, this bill would strengthen USFWS's ability to stop elephant poaching in Africa. Instead of punishing innocent Americans with a domestic ivory ban, an absurdly indirect attempt to change attitudes in China about illicit ivory, this bill focuses on fighting poachers in Africa to save elephants. The bill authorizes placement of USFWS law enforcement officers in each African elephant range country. That officer would assist local wildlife rangers protect African elephants and help apprehend those who illegally kill or assist in the illegal killing of African elephants.

To further protect elephants and punish countries that import poached ivory, the bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to certify to the President any country that, directly or indirectly, is a significant transit or destination point for illegal ivory trade. Doing so would trigger other appropriate diplomatic and legal responses that pressure law breaking countries to stop violating international law and fueling the African elephant poaching problem. The bill also requires the secretary to prioritize projects in support of this law in the Secretary's annual budget.


February 6, 2015: Alaskan Congressman Don Young has introduced bipartisan legislation with Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) to roll-back and further halt onerous constraints on the import and export of lawfully possessed ivory products, including musical instruments, firearms, and museum pieces that include ivory parts. The legislation, the African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015, would effectively end the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s unilateral moratorium on the importation, exportation, and sale of lawfully possessed ivory, while also making significant efforts to assist anti-poaching efforts in countries with elephant populations.

Please CALL or EMAIL your Representative and ask them to Co-Sponsor the African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015

Find your Representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

This bill is carefully tailored to allow the Administration to combat African elephant poaching and criminal organizations that sell illicit ivory in China. The bill protects innocent Americans who have complied with existing import prohibitions on antiques and the large stocks of ivory that have been in the United States for over 25 years. It protects the owners of musical instruments, knives, firearms, canes and a multitude of other items that include this decades-old legal ivory.

"This bill is a balanced and comprehensive approach to targeting the trade of illegal ivory without penalizing the millions of Americans who legally acquire or already own products containing ivory," said Congressman Don Young. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ban on moving ivory across international and state borders wrongfully penalizes countless Americans and institutions who have legally obtained musical instruments, firearms, jewelry, and pianos containing elephant ivory, but does little to nothing to prevent the poaching of these animals. The impact of this ban, which affects Americans from all walks of life and destroys the value of countless family heirlooms, has already been significant. My legislation works to alleviate the pressure placed on these legal ivory owners while increasing the enforcement presence, training and anti-poaching efforts in countries where elephant populations exist."

"This legislation will help crack down on illegal poaching through proper use of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s authority across borders, while maintaining protections for legally harvested ivory," said Congressman Collin Peterson. "This is a multi-pronged approach, rather than an all-out ban, which is necessary to conserving African Elephants and ensuring that countless legally obtained antiquities can be preserved."

The introduction of this bill comes in direct response to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s February 25, 2014 unilateral decision to implement a ban on the importation, exportation, or interstate sale of lawfully possessed ivory. The Director’s Order has destroyed the value of classical instruments, certain firearms, chess and pool sets, and other items without providing any conservation value to African elephants. Congressman Young introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress.

The bill would specifically allow:

  • Lawfully possessed, raw or worked ivory to be imported or exported for museum displays and personal use;
  • The Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to place a U.S. Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officer in each African country with significant elephant populations;
  • The Secretary of the Interior to certify any country found to be a significant transit or destination point under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act;
  • The continued importation of Sport-hunted elephant trophies from populations listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species; 
  • For the reauthorization of appropriations of not more than $5 million for each of the years 2016-2020, and for these funds to be prioritized for projects designed to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and training of wildlife officials in ivory producing countries for anti-poaching efforts.
 
 
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