With Federal ivory trade restrictions in danger of being rolled back, state ivory bans become crucial in the push to protect elephants from poaching. PHOTO: © Vanessa MignonMassachusetts is rejoining the fight to save elephants and rhinos from poachers, as state lawmakers have introduced a bill to crack down on illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn.

Thousands of rhinoceroses and tens of thousands of elephants are being slaughtered every year for their horns and ivory tusks, and the relentless carnage is pushing some populations of these iconic species toward extinction.

Both the United States and China have strengthened their federal wildlife trade laws in response, but new leadership in Washington may stall that momentum – or worse: US Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) has already written legislation to roll back these vital protections. American action was a significant factor in spurring the Chinese government to announce an ivory ban of their own. There can only be negative consequences if the US fails to live up to its promises.

This new political landscape means that US state laws are now more important than ever. State bans have passed from New York to Hawaii and important stops in between, and a previous effort in the Bay State made significant progress last year but didn’t cross the finish line. Now, Representative Lori Ehrlich and Senator Jason Lewis have refined and reintroduced their bill to ensure that Massachusetts remains a bulwark for elephants and rhinos even if national elected officials cave to pressure from the NRA and other pro-ivory interests.

There is a long road ahead, but the next step is to make sure that plenty of legislators sign up as co-sponsors. If you’re a Massachusetts resident and want to contribute to this effort, you can help by calling your state representatives and senator – we’ve even prepared a short script for you to use if you’re not quite sure of what to say:

“I understand that legislation has been introduced to restrict ivory and rhino horn sales in Massachusetts, and I hope that [Senator or Representative’s name] will cosponsor this important bill.

The bill number is [for Senate calls: SD 457, for House calls: HD 758].

This measure would make sure that illegal ivory and horn can no longer be sold in Massachusetts, and would help to reinforce US federal laws that some members of Congress are attempting to roll back.

I believe that it’s important for all of us to take responsibility for protecting endangered species, and urge [Senator or Representative’s name] to lend their support as well.

Thank you.”

(You can find your legislators by clicking this link.)

Your call will likely be answered by one of the office staff. Simply tell them you have a comment about new legislation, and they will either take your message or put you on the line with someone else who will take it. Don’t forget to introduce yourself and say where you’re from, and of course feel free to tell them why you care in your own words.

After your call, please send us an e-mail to let us know how it went, or if you have any questions. Keep an eye on this space for updates as the bill progresses.

–PL

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Article source: IFAW

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