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By: The Elephant Sanctuary

Oregon Senate Backs Ban On Ivory Sales

By Jonathan J. Cooper SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Senate voted Tuesday to ban ivory sales i...

By Jonathan J. Cooper

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Senate voted Tuesday to ban ivory sales in an effort to tamp down on poaching that has reduced elephant populations. The move came over objections from Republicans who said the legislation would render relics worthless and put dealers out of business.

Supporters of the bill say federal laws are insufficient to crack down on trafficking of ivory. Federal law only affects sales across state lines.

"I think everyone in this country wants to see these species survive," said Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton. "I think the people of Oregon want to help."

The bill would make it a crime to buy or sell ivory from elephant or mammoth tusks as well as rhinoceros horns.

Critics say ivory sales within Oregon aren't the driver of poaching in Africa, so a crackdown will only harm locals — whose products become worthless if they can't be sold — without improving the plight of elephants or rhinos. They also question why the measure bans mammoth ivory, which comes from an extinct species, not poaching.

"The poaching is not a problem that Oregon can solve," said Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg. "And yet we're going to pass this bill and put people out of business."

The bill aims to protect the sale of antique guns and knives that are up to 20 percent ivory by volume and made before 1976, though critics worry they won't be able to prove whether their items are old enough to remain legal. Musical instruments built before federal law cracked down on ivory would not be affected.

The Senate's 19-11 vote sends the measure to the House. Republican Sen. Brian Boquist of Dallas joined all 18 Democrats voting in favor of the measure.

People convicted of breaking the law would face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $1,250 or twice the value of the illegal product.

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Track this bill: Senate Bill 913

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