By Megan Gannon
In a bid to discourage poachers and wildlife traffickers, federal officials had planned to pulverize 6 tons (5.4 tonnes) of illegal elephant ivory this week, but the event has been canceled due to the lapse in government funding.
After the shutdown began on Oct. 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) suspended most of its programs and operations, including the ivory crush scheduled for Tuesday (Oct. 8) at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo., just north of Denver.
The agency was slated to destroy the United States' government-held stockpile of ivory that it has compiled over the past 25 years. The move was part of an executive order to fight wildlife trafficking that President Barack Obama signed in July. The initiative called for a new task force to address the issue and allotted $10 million to aid Africa's efforts to combat poaching and the illegal trade of wildlife, which has imperiled rhinoceroses, elephants and great apes.
The Colorado ivory crush will be rescheduled, but a spokesman said the agency will not be able to make a decision about when until the Fish and Wildlife Service resumes normal operations. The agency has yet to determine what it will do with the crushed ivory.
The public destruction of the trinkets, figurines, statues and other goods is meant to send a message that ivory is not a legitimate commercial product to be bought and sold or used in art and jewelry. More....