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Elly Pepper’s Blog

Deal Reached on New York Ivory Bill Means Satao & Others Won't Have Died in Vain

Elly Pepper

Posted June 17, 2014

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On Friday, authorities verified that a large elephant killed with poison arrows in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park was one of the world’s oldest, biggest, and most loved elephants, Satao.  His carcass was found only a few hundred yards from the waterhole he frequented, his gargantuan tusks gone.

This is exactly the type of thing that New York, late last night, committed to stopping when representatives from the offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Assembly Speaker Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Skelos reached a three way deal to move forward and pass ivory legislation before the session ends on Thursday, cracking down on the largest ivory market in the U.S.

Honeymoon 148.jpg                                                          (C) Jay Tansey

Two new and identical bills, which were introduced by Assemblyman Sweeney (A10143) and Senators Lanza and Avella (S7890) prohibit transactions of ivory, mammoth, and rhino horn save for a few narrow exceptions for certain musical instruments, educational and scientific purposes (e.g., museums), 100 year old antiques that are less than 20% ivory with documented proof of provenance; and transfers to legal beneficiaries of trusts/estates.

The bills also increase fines and jail time for those who violate New York’s wildlife trafficking laws. Whereas now the punishment is basically a slap on the wrist, these bills impose a fine of $3,000 or 2x the value of the article for the first offense, $6,000 or 3x the value of the article for the second offense, and a Class D felony for articles exceeding $25,000—meaning 5-10 years in prison plus a significant fine.  

The Assembly and Senate expect to bring the bills to a vote on Thursday so the end is in sight. With this legislation, New York will become the first state in the country to pass a law significantly restricting its ivory market – a move that we will be pushing other big markets like California (second largest) and Hawaii (third largest) to follow.

We can’t bring Satao and the hundreds of thousands of other elephants like him that have been brutally killed for their tusks back. But we CAN stop this from happening in the future and New York has taken a significant step towards this end today.

**UPDATE 6/20/14: The Ivory Bill passed out of the New York Legislature in the wee hours last night and now heads to Governor Cuomo, who supports the legislation.**

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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