Lawmakers Call For Ban On Intrastate Ivory Sales Amid Illicit Retail
Activity Across CT
Izetta Asikainen, CT News Junkie
January 25, 2024
An undercover investigation conducted by The Humane Society of the U.S.
revealed illegal sales of ivory – along with bone and teeth from other
imperiled species – across 15 Connecticut cities and six counties,
officials said during a news conference Wednesday at the Legislative Office
Over the course of two weeks in November 2023, investigators with the
Humane Society of the U.S. said they visited 29 stores across Connecticut
and found 169 individual pieces of ivory available for sale without proper
Whitney Teamus, senior director of investigations for the Society, said the
goal of the investigation was “to locate and identify ivory for sale with
the hopes of understanding the degree of its availability and legality.”
What we found was a “gruesome amount of evidence that highlighted the need
for a call to action,” Teamus said.
Under federal law, it is illegal to import, export, or sell ivory across
state lines. Sales within states are legal only if proper documentation
exists and in accordance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In order to be exempt by the ESA, ivory needs to be over 100 years old. But
without documentation that is hard to prove.
According to investigators, they found vendors who were unaware or
uneducated on ivory identification. While some vendors were aware they were
selling ivory, “not one vendor knew the age of their pieces,” Teamus said.
Although federal law does not cover sales between residents of the same
state, the ESA standard for exemption of legal ivory still applies. Kathryn
Kullberg, director of marine and wildlife protection for the Humane Society
of the U.S., mentioned that there are enforcement gaps created by a
“chaotic patchwork of laws.”
Because federal law does not apply to intrastate sales of ivory, many
vendors are able to launder illicit ivory without facing legal
repercussions, Kullberg said, meaning vendors are selling ivory that is
illegal and not in accordance with the ESA.
“These local intrastate markets are proof this loophole is being abused,”
Of the retailers the society’s investigative team visited, they said not
one had the required documentation.
“Without proper documentation it is impossible to know whether the items
were imported in violation of federal law and came from recently poached
elephants,” Kullberg said.
Legislation banning the intrastate sale or trade of ivory has been passed
in 13 states, including New York. Kullberg fears that as New York ends the
sale of ivory there, “the ivory trade will move right across the state line
Kullberg described the law as convoluted, and emphasized the state’s need
to mirror federal law: “Extinction is not worth trinket.”
Annie Hornish, Connecticut State Director of the Humane Socidety of the
U.S., noted the urgency and importance of this legislation: “It will ensure
Connecticut does not continue to play a role in the cruel, unnecessary
global poaching crisis.”
State Reps. David Michel and Nicole Klarides-Ditria, who are Co-Chairs of
the Animal Advocacy Caucus, voiced their support and intent to advocate for
the legislation during the upcoming legislative session.