Ranking Member Grijalva Hails Tougher Ivory Trafficking Standard – House Republicans Trying to Overturn It Despite Public Opinion

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva today hailed the newly announced U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule prohibiting most forms of domestic commercial ivory trading. The rule is the finalization of a July 2015 administration proposed rule under the Endangered Species Act.

The regulation, which received more than 1.3 million public comments during the drafting process, according to FWS – most of them overwhelmingly positive – will go into effect in 30 days unless a pending Republican effort to repeal it becomes law. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced a standalone bill (H.R. 697) last year to prohibit the administration from more stringently regulating ivory trafficking. Over the strong objection of House Democrats, that bill has since been included in the so-called Sportsmen’s Bill (H.R. 2406) and the House version of a bicameral energy package still under negotiation.

As the Telegraph reported in January, ivory trafficking has become a financial lifeline for African warlords such as Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has routinely kidnapped children and forced them to fight as soldiers.

“This is the very definition of a bipartisan issue, and I hope my friends on both sides of the aisle support this rule every step of the way,” Grijalva said. “Ivory trafficking shouldn’t be subject to election-year politics. The Obama administration should be congratulated for protecting elephants at grave risk of extinction. Anyone who says otherwise should have to explain why they support a status quo that implicates American consumers in a criminal enterprise linked to terrorism.”

The rule is expected to accomplish a near total ban on domestic ivory trafficking. While it includes “de minimis” and antique exemptions for small amounts of legal ivory trading, it is designed to remove the cover legitimate antique dealers sometimes provide to illegal traffickers.

The rule comes as the U.S. prepares to participate next week in a strategic dialogue with China, a major hub for ivory trafficking. In September, the U.S. will attend the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where ivory trafficking is likely to be a major issue.

Press Contact

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626