Massachusetts - SB450

An Act relative to ivory and rhino horn trafficking


January 17, 2017


Inserts new Chapter 131B to prohibit the importation, sale, and purchase of ivory with few exceptions. Establishes graduated penalties starting at a $4,000 fine and imprisonment up to 18 months with maximum penalties under this section standing at 7 years imprisonment and at least $100,000 in fines in addition to all ivory being seized. Establishes the Endangered Elephant and Rhino Conservation and Education Fund to expand enforcement efforts of this provision. The Fund will consist of all monies received as part of the penalties of this section in addition to gifts or other appropriations.

Our Position



Massachusetts is threatening to enact a New York style ivory ban that is far harsher than the Federal Ivory Ban.  At prior hearings, Commonwealth legislators said they would wait to see what federal officials adopt and decide how the Commonwealth could support federal efforts.  Instead, Animal Rights Groups are pushing for a New York style ban that will criminalize the antique trade and disregard the federal de minimis rules. 

S.450 would:

  • Impose rigorous documentation requirements AND a 200 gram limit on the trade of antiques containing ivory or rhino horn (items made wholly or primarily of ivory weighing less than 200g are also criminalized)
  • Criminalize sale of all ivory less than 100 years old except for musical instruments with less than 200g of ivory
  • Create a slush fund to encourage aggressive persecution of people who own legally acquired ivory items, including bounties

Recent prosecutions and ivory crushes in New York and other state governments with ivory bans show how states are over-charge people with crimes that would be financially crippling and then offer settlements that avoid these draconian laws from being effectively challenged.  As we warned four years ago, they are making criminals out of desperate people who are trying to recoup their investment in legally acquired ivory items to fund an animal rights agenda that is divorced from reasonable animal conservation measures in Africa.

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