Good news out of Washington State: voters overwhelmingly approved the most comprehensive anti-wildlife-trafficking law in the United States. The law, which was known as I-1401 on the ballot, passed with 71% of votes.
The bill was backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the Humane Society of the United States. It prohibits the sale, purchase, trading, or distribution of a number of animal species of products made from them. The list of animals includes elephants, rhinos, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, pangolins, marine turtles, sharks, or rays that are listed as endangered or vulnerable.
According to Wayne Pacelle, who is president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, this bill will go a long way toward building momentum towards the United States shutting down trade in the various trinkets, trophies, powders, and pelts taken for these animals. It is especially important that the United States take a stand on this issue, because after China, this country is the second largest market in the world for ivory products.
Pacelle pointed out that the animals need their horns, heads, or pelts a lot more than humans do. Animals from that list, which are frequently and illegally hunted, often occupy important places within their local ecosystems, and hunting them to extinction, which will absolutely be the end result if demand for these items continues, will have a huge impact on ecosystems across the globe. And those animals are generally killed for hunting trophies, to make handbags or other luxury items, or to be used in various traditional cures with no medicinal value.
When the president of China, Xi Jinping visited the United States in September, he discussed the problem with President Obama, and the two announced a pact, signed by both countries, to enact almost complete bans on ivory export and import. That’s a huge step, but it’s not enough. With the passage of I-1401 in Washington State though, the movement to save these animals has gotten a much-needed boost.