By Dan Ashe [Letter to Editor\
We take issue with critics of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to tighten United States trade controls on African elephant ivory to address the poaching crisis (“The Wrong Way to Protect Elephants,” Op-Ed, March 27).
That’s not surprising considering that one of the Op-Ed writers represents the International Ivory Society, a trade group with a vested interest in keeping commercial ivory flowing. This alone warrants a skeptical examination of the arguments made.
Adjusting trade controls is just part of a government strategy to combat wildlife trafficking. It includes working with the international community to protect wild populations, arrest traffickers and reduce consumer demand for ivory and other products.
Illegal ivory has been infiltrating the “legal” market in the United States. Criminal gangs who slaughter African elephants routinely manipulate legal trade to disguise poached ivory. If we want consumer countries to act, we must ensure that we aren’t part of the problem. The survival of elephants hangs in the balance.
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service
Washington, March 31, 2014