China and U.S. Move to Enact Ivory Bans

elephantherdfirstforhunters042914On Friday, September 25th, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama announced an agreement between China and the United States to enact “nearly complete bans on ivory import and export.”

This agreement was introduced with the intent of curbing poaching and helping to end the illegal ivory trade. Unfortunately, this pact will not accomplish its reported objective. Instead of going after poachers, smugglers and black-market profiteers of illicit ivory, Presidents Obama and Jinping have decided to attack innocent owners of legally obtained ivory, including hunters who import legally hunted trophies.

In line with this agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed changes to the regulations applicable to the importation of ivory and sport-hunted elephant trophies. The proposed regulations will add restrictions on the importation and sale of ivory, require individual permits for each trophy imported and impose restrictions on the interstate sale of trophies. These proposed changes will harm those who have no part in illegal activities; including firearm owners, hunters, recreational shooters and gun collectors who have legally purchased firearms (knives, jewelry, antiques and other items) with ivory components.

Like every legitimate hunter, Safari Club International, finds poachers and the act of poaching itself abhorrent. The penalty for those caught cannot be high enough. The solution to poaching is not to penalize the owners of legally obtained ivory. Instead, we must all look for concrete, science-based solutions to combat the acts of those who illegally take and traffic ivory.

There is already a near-total ban in the United States on commercial ivory, and new restrictions put in place last year tightened things further. Commercial imports of African elephant ivory, even antiques, were banned, and the restrictions limited the number and types of hunting trophies that could be brought into the country. Individual states have also enacted or proposed bills to further restrict ivory sales.

Safari Club International works to ensure sound scientific principles are used to manage wildlife and habitat while the Obama Administration has chosen to pay greater attention to hyperbole than science. Although the President may think that it is preferable to act to mollify emotionally based public campaigns, such responses brought in the name of conservation often fail to be in the best interest of wildlife.

 

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