Yes on Initiative 1401: Save Animals Facing Extinction

Illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest transnational crime behind weapon, drug, and human trafficking, and funds other types of violence and criminal organizations across the globe. Passing I-1401 will help reduce that violence. In addition, many of the animals protected by I-1401 are killed for medicinal use despite no real evidence of the efficacy of these expensive treatments.

While New York and New Jersey have passed laws to protect elephants and rhinos, I-1401 will prohibit and strengthen the penalties for the sale, purchase and distribution of products made from a list of 10 endangered animals: elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays. Despite widespread public opposition to these practices, powerful special interest groups continue to lobby state legislatures and Congress to oppose common sense laws that would protect iconic species slipping toward extinction.

I-1401 would ban the sale or purchase of products made from endangered and exploited animals, including elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, pangolins, marine turtles, sharks and rays. It will be the first statewide ballot measure to help protect iconic species on the verge of being slaughtered into extinction. Passing it will set a national, and perhaps even international, precedent.

But first, at least 325,000 signatures must be collected by July to make the November ballot, in addition to building a robust, statewide campaign.

Join philanthropist Paul G. Allen, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, in getting this bill passed this November.

Full text of the initiative here.

3 Responses to “Yes on Initiative 1401: Save Animals Facing Extinction”

  1. Will Stroup says:

    This is an important cause and I enthusiastically support it.

  2. Stuart Halsan says:

    My name is Stuart Halsan and I am an antique collector opposed to Initiative 1401.
    Your responsibility to be an informed voter has never been as clear as it is for this initiative. If you read the voter’s pamphlet statements, both pro and con, you would think they are talking about two totally different issues. Someone isn’t telling the truth or is embellishing their arguments to have you vote without thinking it through. I urge you to read the initiative itself.
    The proponents imply that this initiative will stop the poaching and trafficking in endangered species and save elephants. If that were the case, everyone should vote for it. The truth is that endangered species are already protected under a 1973 treaty called the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, which makes trafficking illegal and by the United States Endangered Species Act of 1972. The proponents admit these laws are working in their voter’s pamphlet rebuttal by stating that illegal ivory is currently being seized at our ports.
    This initiative is targeted at antiques. Ivory pieces decades or centuries old, legal when acquired, legally owned and not violating any of those laws. It strips them of their value and makes innocent people criminals.
    The truth is that poaching in Africa cannot be stopped by a Washington State initiative. The controlling laws would be laws of the countries themselves, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and others. Many are unstable with weak or corrupt governments and are home to violent rebel groups and terrorists that illegally poach ivory to fund their activities.
    These are the worst kind of criminals and should be stopped but few countries dedicate the funding necessary to fight them and some are even complicit themselves. The destination for illegal ivory is the Far East: China, the Philippines, Viet-Nam, and Thailand where the demand is high and officials turn a blind eye. Only an extremely small amount is even attempted to be smuggled into America.
    How does Initiative 1401 propose to save elephants? Read the initiative, please. The first section is what is called an “Intent” section, an essay on why the proponents feel it is necessary. It does not have the force of law. The second section adds definitions to Washington fish and wildlife laws which govern hunting and fishing licenses, setting seasons and punishing violations. The third section is what this initiative is all about. All of it would be new law. Read it carefully.
    It makes it a crime to buy or sell or even give away anything that contains ivory. It would be a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $14,000 fine if it is worth $250 or more and a gross misdemeanor if it is a first offense and worth less than $250.
    The proponents say there is an “antique exemption” but that is not true. Read section 3 subsection (2)(a) carefully. An antique is exempt under this initiative only if it is less than 15% ivory, more than 100 years old and you have all the paperwork showing provenance back to when it was made.
    A chess set, Mah Jong tiles, dominos, jewelry, statuettes, beads, buttons anything made of ivory would be illegal to sell or buy no matter how old they are because they are more than 15% ivory.
    An 80 year old humidor with only a small inlaid flower of ivory would be illegal to sell or buy because it’s not 100 years old.
    And any item with less than 15% ivory would be illegal to sell or buy unless you could fully document its provenance for over 100 years. Who could ever do that?
    They would allow you to pass it on by will to your heirs, who couldn’t sell it or give it away either, or you could donate it to a museum, but the entire value would be taken away. If you were charged with selling it they would seize it and give it to an “Educational or Scientific institution, solely for the purposes of raising awareness of the trafficking and threatened nature of endangered animals” In other words to a group that would use your antique to show what a bad person you were for even owning it.
    Look in your family heirlooms. Does anything look off-white? Do you know if it is ivory or not? Do you want to pay an expert to tell you if it is? Would you risk giving it away? This initiative will affect you.
    Demonizing people who own legal ivory antiques, from before its importation was made illegal is not an effective or even rational strategy to combat poaching and trafficking in Africa. It won’t work and it would make legal antiques worthless. It would make criminals out of good, honest people.
    The logical solution should focus on interdiction. Finding, arresting and punishing poachers and traffickers. Foreign aid should be directed at vastly increasing efforts there, where the killing is taking place. That would be an effective, sensible and fair policy to address the real issue. Too little has been done to fight the real criminals involved in this trade.
    What was legally acquired should stay legal. Please read Initiative 1401 and read it carefully. It is not what they say it is.
    Please vote NO on Initiative 1401.

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