Alaskan Congressman Don Young has introduced bipartisan legislation with Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) to roll-back and further halt onerous constraints on lawfully possessed ivory products, including musical instruments, firearms, knives, and museum pieces that include ivory parts.
The African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015, HR 697, would effectively end the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s draconian and unilateral moratorium on the sale and trade of lawfully possessed ivory, while also making significant efforts to assist anti-poaching efforts in countries with elephant populations.
“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, knives, 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.