California bill may ban ivory sales, purchases

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San Francisco lawmakers debated Monday whether to throw their weight behind a state measure calling for a total ban on the purchase or sale of ivory.

San Francisco lawmakers debated Monday whether to throw their weight behind a state measure calling for a total ban on the purchase or sale of ivory.

It would strengthen a state law already on the books that's designed to prevent the animal's extinction.

A merchant told ABC7 News people like the craftsmanship if ivory. He is one of dozens selling ivory in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood.



Critics say 96 elephants are being slaughtered every day for their ivory tusks. "Often the elephants, the tusks are taken when they are still alive, they're not always dead, it's very barbaric," March for Elephants spokesperson Julie Callahan said.

California passed a law decades ago that banned the import or sale, but created an exception for ivory imported before 1977 and that has allowed illegal sales to flourish.

San Francisco's Chinatown ranks behind only New York and Los Angeles in ivory sales.

A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council found 80 percent was likely to be illegal, but one merchant says he's not one of the bad guys. "It's left over, left over from the 70's, no new pieces," he said.

Now with protests like one held last fall, state lawmakers will consider a blanket ban on buying or selling any elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns.



On Monday, a committee of San Francisco lawmakers debated whether to support that measure. New York and New Jersey already have strict laws. A tourist shopping in Chinatown says legal or not, she would not buy ivory. "There's lovely jewelry but there's things that are better that are safer for animals," Lydia Storey said.

Under the proposed bill if you already have ivory objects, you can keep them.

Related Topics:
politicsbusinessanimalanimals in perilelephantlawscaliforniaChinatownSan Francisco
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