California Bans Ivory

California Bans Ivory


AB 96 becomes Law: Huge Victory for Wild Elephants and Rhinos!

California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 96 into law, making California the third State in the United States to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn. Since California has been so implicit in the ivory trade, this will have a major impact on poachers and traffickers worldwide.

New York and New Jersey were the first two States to ban ivory sales. We hope Washington will be next, with other States to follow suit. Current California law allows the purchase and sale of ivory imported prior to 1977, which created a parallel illegal market and made the law nearly impossible to enforce. AB 96 fixes this by eliminating the pre-1977 loophole in California’s ivory law and banning the sale, offer for sale, possession with intent to sell, and importation with intent to sell elephant, mammoth, narwhal, whale, walrus, and hippo ivory, along with rhinoceros horn. This new bill also increases penalties for traffickers up to roughly $50,000 and/or one year in prison.

The bill was introduced by California state assembly speaker Toni Atkins and California State Senator Ricardo Lara. The passing of this bill into law sends the message to poachers and crime syndicates worldwide that the blood currency of ivory no longer has any value. No demand equals no killing. The bill, named for the 96 elephants who are killed everyday in Africa for their tusks, will take effect in July of 2016.

While Governor Brown came through big time for the wild elephants of Africa, he profoundly let down the captive elephants of America. Brown vetoed the Bullhook Ban, SB 716, in spite of strong legislative support and tireless efforts from many concerned citizens and activist groups, including IDA. The bill was authored by Senator Ricardo Lara and co-sponsored by PAWS Elephant Sanctuary co-founder Ed Stewart, together with the Oakland Zoo and The Humane Society of the United States. For at least another year, until the bill can be reintroduced, California’s captive elephants will endure more cruelty and abuse from the terrifying discipline of the bullhook. We hope the great momentum from anti-bullhook campaigns this year will help pass SB 716 next year, making California the first State to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants.

Brown has been a champion on animal welfare issues in the past, from signing legislation that outlaws lead ammunition when shooting wildlife to protecting bears and bobcats from hound hunting. Though very disappointing that he vetoed SB 716, we will try again next year with greater efforts and actions. As California takes a stand for elephants across continents, we will not give up until elephants in our own country are protected with equal compassion and commitment. Thank you for your support in helping the IVORY BILL to become law. Stay tuned for updates on the Bullhook ban for 2016 and additional bills to ban ivory in other states!