Ivory/Rhino Horn Ban – Please Support H.B. 5578

Taken from the Humane Society of The United States

Purpose: To clamp down on illegal ivory and rhino horn sales by prohibiting the sale of ivory and rhino horn within Connecticut.  Surrounding states have either already passed laws [NY, NJ] or are in the process [MA,VT]. Connecticut must not become a haven for illicit ivory.

Why is this bill needed?


  • Wildlife trafficking is an escalating global crisis fueled in part by the U.S. ivory market – which is among the top few markets globally.
  • Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory- an average of one every 15 minutes. All extant five rhino species are threatened with extinction, with merely 29,000 remaining worldwide.
  • The worldwide illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007 and tripled since 1998.
  • We may see extinctions of these animals from the wild within our lifetimes. Scientists estimate some populations of the African elephant will be extinct within the next few decades if poaching continues at the current rate.  Black rhinos have experienced a 96% population decline since 1970 with fewer than 4,800 members of the species remaining today.

  • Elephant and rhino poaching is a brutal and bloody practice – animals are sometimes chased with helicopters and shot down with military-grade weapons. Tusks and horns are harvested by cutting off the faces of the sometimes still-living animals.  Babies are often killed for their tiny stubble of tusk or horn.   Elephant babies, who do not have tusks, are left as orphans; unable to fend for themselves, they often die if not rescued by humans.
  • Connecticut has a long history with the ivory trade, dating back from the 19th century until mid-20th century. Recognzing the town’s past, residents of Deep River dedicated an elephant sculpture at the entrance of the Deep River Town Hall and laid a plaque commemorating the elephants slaughtered for the ivory trade, “…remembering its debt to this majestic creature as it looks forward to a new future…”

  • Extremist groups and terrorist organizations are often involved in wildlife trafficking, using it to finance their military operation At $8-10 billion per year, the illegal wildlife trade ranks as the fourth most lucrative criminal activity internationally, behind only narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.  Political instability and corruption across Africa has made the enormous profits from the ivory black market a viable source for funding military resistance groups such as the Somalia-based Al-Qaeda affiliate, Janjaweed militia in Sudan, and the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army.
  • Wildlife trafficking is an escalating global crisis that the President has identified as a threat to our national interests.  The July 2013 Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking states: “The poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their derivative parts and products [together known as “wildlife trafficking”] represent an international crisis that continues to escalate.  Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates.  The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants [and other species] has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations. Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability, and undermining security… For these reasons, it is in the national interest of the United States to combat wildlife trafficking.”
  • During the last decade, more than one thousand park rangers across the world have been killed by poachers while on duty.


  • Federal laws largely do not regulate intrastate [within a state] ivory sales.  Connecticut needs to complement existing, strengthened federal regulations.
  • Both New Jersey and New York enacted ivory ban laws in 2014, with California following suit in 2015. Also in 2015, Washington passed an ivory ban ballot measure with 71% in support, winning every single county in the state. In 2016, similar bills have been filed in Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Vermont, and other states.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes state bans are important, with Directory Dan Ashe stating: “The Ivory poaching and trafficking crisis is a complex problem that requires action on multiple levels to ensure that commercial trade doesn’t contribute to the slaughter of elephants in the wild.  As we work to make it harder for criminals to launder illegal ivory into international and interstate commercial trade, it’s encouraging to see states taking actions within their own borders.”

  • Complement federal action by closing the intrastate loophold to ensure that Connecticut does not play a role in illegal ivory and rhino horn trafficking.
  • Prevent ivory traffickers from exploiting federal loopholes. Despite federal regulations restricting interstate sale, import, and export of wildlife products, certain ivory and rhino horns, including antiques and pre-CITES items, can be sold under the Endangered Species Act. Criminals capitalize on these loopholes by aging newly harvested ivory so that it appears old or using fraudulent documentation.  Thus, legal trade serves as a cover for illegal ivory trade.
  • Impose heavy fines on ivory traffickers and order the seizure of an illegal ivory and rhino horn products upon conviction.
  • Make law enforcement’s job easier by providing clarity for federal and state law enforcement officers who would no longer have to determine if ivory and horn is legal or illegal under the complex federal regulatory scheme.
  • This bill would NOT criminalize possession of ivory currently owned by Connecticut residents or prohibit inheritance or noncommercial gifts, nor would it restrict the sale of bona-fide antiques and musical instruments that meet certain requirements.
  • Contact: Annie Hornish, Connecticut State Director, The Humane Society of the United States ahornish@humanesociety.org; telephone: 860-413-3566, cell: 860-966-5201
  • Executive Order 13648
  • http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150407-ivory-trade-vermont-usfws-victor-gordon-cities-nra/
  • CITES: The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora

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