A domestic ivory ban in the United States hurts innocent Americans without saving a single living elephant. Instead of illegally punishing people who own or work with legal ivory by stripping value of billions of dollars' worth of private possessions from millions of people, poaching should be fought the following ways:
For immediate relief of poaching trends
President Obama's Executive Order created the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking to make recommendations to the US Fish and Wildlife Service ("USFWS") on how to stop wildlife trafficking.
The original Executive Order did not mention a domestic ivory ban. The council was formed with people who had government experience or who represented large nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) already involved in conservation efforts. No one on the Council worked with ivory in the US or owned significant amounts of it. Click here for more about the Council.
Because of the current ban on importing elephant ivory imposed in 1989, the US market for ivory is already isolated. Existing stocks of ivory brought into the US prior to 1990 are used in a wide variety of products, but because it cannot be exported, it trades within the country. Antiques (ivory older than 100 years) can be traded internationally, but antiques are tightly regulated when they cross international borders.
USFWS has been very successful in prosecuting ivory smugglers. In their November 2013 report, USFWS describes major investigations and prosecutions of ivory smugglers. USFWS concluded in September 2012 that they "do not believe that there is a significant illegal ivory trade into this country." The Service's activity and conclusions were consistent with a December 2013 CITES report that reflects illicit ivory trafficking into the United States is insignificant.
Nevertheless, the Advisory Council suggested a domestic ivory ban for the first time in a public meeting held on December 16, 2013. On February 11, 2014, President Obama announced the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory. USFWS elaborated on how it intends to implement the National Strategy in a Questions & Answers page on the USFWS website,
Also, if finalized the following activities WILL BE LIMITED:
USFWS began implementing the intensified African ivory ban on February 25, 2014 by issuing Director's Order No. 210 which
These new rules apply to antiques, musical instruments, and other raw or worked ivory.
On March 20, 2014, the Advisory Council conducted a second public meeting in Washington, DC. There, they further elaborated on additional penalties for wildlife trafficking, which under new rules would include violations of the Domestic Ivory Ban. Proposed penalties include: