Ivory Update Winter 2016

It has become more and more difficult to keep politics out of this blog; however, this proposed legislation is way over the top. The fact that legislation can be proposed in the United States making it illegal to own something that was acquired and possessed legally doesn't resemble any government that I know. I think many of my liberal friends would agree that this is beyond all recognized constitutional governmental limits. We will keep you informed..

Connecticut Bill Would Make Possessing Ivory a Felony

Preying upon Animal Rights groups’ propaganda about Cecil the Lion, Connecticut introduced SB 227 that would make it a felony to own any object containing any elephant ivory.  That’s right – 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for owning a piano with ivory keys, an antique cane with an ivory handle, or a shotgun with an ivory sight bead.
This is the latest iteration of so-called “Cecil Laws” that ban “Big 5 African Species.”  While these bills aren’t even consistent about which 5 species they cover, so far they all include elephants, lions and rhinos.
This bill is particularly bad because it goes beyond trade to criminalize possession of any specimen from any named species.   The only exception for private owners is if you (1) own a specimen in the state before the law was passed AND (2) get a “certificate of possession” from Connecticut’s Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Even if you get the certificate, you cannot sell or trade any covered item.  No exceptions for people who come to Connecticut after the law is passed.  No exceptions for people who bring ivory or other covered items into the state.  The full bill can be found at https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2016&bill_num=227
For a long time, I’ve warned people that the Animal Rights groups use antique and musical instrument exemptions to divide and conquer people who own and trade legal ivory.  Here is a prime example of what they will continue to push for.  This bill even goes so far as to explicitly authorize searches and seizures in people’s homes if “any law enforcement officer” gets a warrant based on probable cause belief that you own a piece of ivory or other covered specimen.
The Environment Committee will conduct a public hearing on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 12:30PM in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT.  Sign-ups to testify begin at 8:15 AM.  Unless people show up to testify, especially Connecticut voters, this bill or something very close to it is likely to pass.
If you can’t testify live, you can submit written testimony to envtestimony@cga.ct.gov.  Be sure to identify yourself and the bill (SB 227) on any written testimony.
By the way, for people who are uncomfortable with hunting, I suggest reading http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/12166651/Cecil-effect-leaves-parks-lion-at-risk-of-cull.html.  This article, and others like it, show that safari hunting is not poaching, and that stripping this means of generating revenue from conservancies is certain to do far more damage to these species than legal hunts ever could.  You don’t have to like to hunt to understand the important role it plays in countries that have responsible conservation programs.  Don’t be tricked into attacking hunters when the underlying policy behind this ban is as bad for the animals as it is for law abiding people.
If you have questions, please write to me at rmitchell@elephantprotection.org.















Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) For purposes of this section, "big five African species" means any specimen of any of the following members of the animal kingdom: African elephant (loxodonta africana), African lion (panthera leo), African leopard (panthera pardus pardus), black rhinoceros (diceros bicornis) and white rhinoceros (ceratotherium simum cottoni), including any part, product or offspring thereof, or the dead body or parts thereof, except fossils, whether or not it is included in a manufactured product or in a food product.
(b) No person shall import, possess, sell, offer for sale or transport in this state any big five African species.
(c) Any law enforcement officer shall have authority to enforce the provisions of this section and, whenever necessary, to execute any warrant to search for and seize any big five African species imported, possessed, sold, offered for sale or transported in violation of this section.
(d) Unless such activity is otherwise prohibited by federal law, the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not apply if any of the following conditions exist: (1) Such specimen of a big five African species was located or possessed within the state prior to the effective date of this section and the legal owner of such specimen obtained a certificate of possession from the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection; (2) such specimen of a big five African species is to be part of a temporary or permanent collection of a museum that has a tax exemption from the federal Internal Revenue Service as an educational or scientific institution, provided such specimen is not subsequently sold, offered for sale, traded, bartered or distributed to any other party; or (3) such specimen of a big five African species is distributed directly to a legal beneficiary of a trust or to a legal heir provided: (A) Such specimen was located or possessed by the decedent prior to the effective date of this section, (B) such beneficiary or heir does not subsequently sell, offer for sale, trade, barter or distribute such specimen to any other person, and (C) such beneficiary or heir obtains a certificate of possession from the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection not later than one hundred eighty days after receipt of such specimen.
(e) Any specimen of a big five African species and any other property or item used in connection with a violation of the provisions of this section shall be seized and held pending any criminal proceeding pursuant to this section.
(f) Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a felony and fined not more than ten thousand dollars and imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
(g) Upon conviction of a person for violation of the provisions of this section or upon the entry of a judgment restraining a defendant from importing, possessing, selling, offering for sale or transporting any specimen of a big five African species on the grounds that such activity is or would be a violation of the provisions of this section, any specimen of a big five African species and any other property or item that is seized and held pursuant to this section shall be forfeited and, upon such forfeiture, destroyed.
Sec. 2. Subsection (d) of section 26-311 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):
(d) Nothing in section 1 of this act or sections 26-303 to 26-312, inclusive, or any regulations adopted pursuant to said sections shall prohibit transportation through this state of any endangered or threatened species in accordance with the terms of any permit issued under the laws of another state provided the person in possession of an endangered or threatened species can prove legal possession of the species.



This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following