DLNR NEWS RELEASE: Nation’s broadest wildlife trafficking ban takes effect

Posted on Jul 5, 2017 in Latest News

Measure targets illegal wildlife trade in Hawai‘i

HONOLULU —  As the “endangered species capital of the world,” Hawai‘i knows first-hand the devastating impacts of losing significant and iconic native species. And now state has taken a historic step in helping to prevent the further loss of critically endangered species within its own borders and abroad.

Senate Bill 2647 (Act 125), sponsored by Senator Mike Gabbard, is the most comprehensive U.S. state law targeting the illegal wildlife trade. The bill prohibits the sale, offer for sale, purchase, trade, possession with intent to sell, or barter for any part or product of any species of elephant, mammoth, rhinoceros, tiger, great ape, shark and ray, sea turtle, walrus, narwhal, whale, hippopotamus, monk seal, lion, pangolin, cheetah, jaguar, and leopard, all identified as threatened with extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Endangered Species Act.  This law does not prohibit the mere possession of such items.

While the bill passed in the 2016 legislature, enforcement of the law was delayed until June 30, 2017, to grant individuals and businesses with wildlife products in their possession time to lawfully dispossess of the items. The law also provides continued reasonable exemptions for bona fide antiques, musical instruments, guns and knives, and traditional cultural practices.

“I worked on this issue for a number of years after learning that a 2008 investigation identified Hawai‘i as having the 3rd largest ivory market in the US, only behind New York and California. Many may not be aware that globally, wildlife trafficking falls right behind, and often hand in hand with illegal drugs, weapons and human trafficking crimes. Act 125 now serves as a model for other states and nations to emulate,” said Senator Mike Gabbard.

“Wildlife trafficking remains a high priority for enforcement. We support any legislation that recognizes the importance of protecting species that are at risk of exploitation. Hawai’i is doing its part to be globally aware of this issue”, said the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell.

In the past 4 years, a number of states across the U.S. have pushed for stricter laws to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking.  New York, New Jersey, California and most recently Nevada have each passed laws prohibiting the purchase and sale of products made with elephant ivory and rhino horn and other imperiled species.   Washington and Oregon enacted similar measures through ballot initiatives. State measures are a critical tool to complement federal and international efforts to combat transnational wildlife crime.

The Hawai‘i bill was supported by local residents and dozens of grassroots and national conservation and animal protection groups including The Humane Society of the United States, Conservation Council for Hawaii, NSEFU Wildlife Foundation and the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Vulcan Inc., International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

 

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Media contact:

Deborah Ward

DLNR Communications office

(808) 587-0320

 

Keith Dane
The Humane Society of the United States
Hawaii Policy Advisor
kdane@humanesociety.org
t 301-312-1489