Friday, August 22, 2014

Banning trade in ivory: two stories about enforcement in the U.S.

The NY Times has a story on the new NY law on ivory: Battling the Ivory Trade

"New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed one of the toughest laws in the nation banning the sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns as a “stand against a dangerous and cruel industry.”

The new law, which goes into effect immediately, was written to protect elephants that are being slaughtered at the rate of 96 a day in Africa. If it works as intended, the flow of ivory into New York — often ranked the number one importer of ivory in the United States — should soon slow to virtually nothing.

In the past, traders have found a way to get around bans, often by simply providing fraudulent paper work. But the new law is much stricter. New York will not allow trade in anything but 100-year-old antiques with small amounts of ivory (and documented proof of provenance), musical instruments made before 1975, pieces used for education or scientific purposes such as museums and items handed down through estates.

Even more important, the law dramatically increases penalties for those caught trading in these products. "

Sometimes enforcement leads to silly incidents: Teens' Bagpipes Seized at US Border Over Ivory

"Campbell Webster, of Concord, and his friend Eryk Bean, of Londonderry, were returning from Canada on Sunday after a bagpipe competition that served as a tuneup for the world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The 17-year-olds, fresh off winning several top prizes in Canada, got to a small border crossing in Vermont when they were told they'd have to relinquish their pipes because they contain ivory.

The U.S. prohibits importing ivory taken after 1976. Even though the boys had certificates showing their ivory is older — Campbell's pipes date to 1936 — U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized the pipes in Highgate Springs, Vermont. Well, not all of them: The boys took every other part possible and left the ivory with Border Patrol so nobody else could make a full set out of the parts.

"This has been an awful headache," said Lezlie Webster, Campbell's mother. "At one point at the Canadian border, they said, 'no way are we going to get our pipes back.'"

After contacting New Hampshire's congressional delegation and gathering more than 3,000 signatures on an online petition, the boys are getting their pipes back and were set to fly from Boston to Scotland on Tuesday. But the hassle is lingering like a sour note: Lezlie Webster said the boys had to shell out $576 in extra fees because they took the pipes across the border at a "non-designated crossing.""

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