Groups Press Lawmakers to Close Loopholes that Enable Illegal Wildlife Trafficking to Flourish in Massachusetts
BOSTON, Oct. 20, 2015 – A coalition of Massachusetts legislators and animal welfare organizations will gather at the State House on Wednesday, Oct. 21 to press the House Judiciary Committee to bring H. 1275 – an act to prevent trafficking in ivory and rhino horn – up for a full vote, ending Massachusetts’ role in the poaching crisis that has decimated global elephant and rhino populations.
H. 1275 is sponsored by Representative Lori Ehrlich. Similar legislation, S. 440, has been filed by Senator Jason Lewis and is currently in the committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Joining the coalition will be New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, who led the charge to make New Jersey the first state to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn. Also attending will be 15 middle-schoolers from McDevitt Middle school in Waltham, Mass. who will testify in support of the legislation.
The coalition—including the MSPCA-Angell, Zoo New England, Born Free USA, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Elephants DC—will stage a press conference to underscore the proposed legislation’s importance in stopping the global poaching crisis that is fueled in part by the Massachusetts ivory market.
WHEN and WHERE:
Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 11:30 a.m. in the House Members’ Lounge at the Massachusetts State House.
Rep. Ehrlich will kick off the press conference and introduce students from McDevitt Middle School in Waltham who will talk about why wildlife conservation is so important to them and what they are doing to raise awareness of the issue in their communities.
Sen. Lewis will speak next and introduce Sen. Lesniak from New Jersey, who will implore Massachusetts lawmakers to follow New Jersey’s lead to ensure the conservation of elephants and rhinos.
About the proposed legislation
House Bill 1275, introduced by Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Lori Ehrlich, would ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts, a critical step in the fight to save these animals from extinction. Ninety-six Massachusetts legislators have signed on as co-sponsors.
African elephants and rhinos are being killed at an unprecedented rate as demand grows for their tusks and horns. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory — representing the worst mass slaughter of elephants since the international ivory trade was banned in 1989.
Massachusetts plays a key role in the demand for illegal ivory. IFAW’s 2015 report, Elephant vs Mouse, ranked Boston fourth in the U.S. for ivory sales advertised on Craigslist. A June 2015 report by The Boston Globe uncovered evidence of a Gloucester, Mass. auction house advertising the sale of undocumented ivory which it maintained was wood.
Poaching is also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates and the scale of poaching today which, according to Born Free USA, enriches a $7-10 billion wildlife trafficking enterprise that is intertwined with terrorism and government corruption.
New York and New Jersey passed similar laws last year and just this month California became the third state to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn.
Zoo New England
Born Free USA
Humane Society International