After digging from state to state for ivory bills, it's been a disappointment to me that Kentucky has no such legislative discussion. As far as I know, the topic of the ivory trade, whether legal or illegal, has not even come up in either house. Thus, I believe it's time for this conversation to begin. Kentucky needs to vote on ivory.
This is the last installment of states that are working to pass ivory bans. You'll notice that most states originally introduced a bill in 2015, but for one reason or another they didn't pass. Find out if 2016 will be the year for more ivory bans, from Ohio to Vermont.
Ivory doesn't just exist on an elephant's or a rhino's face. There are actually many sources of ivory in nature, although not all of them are sustainable or responsible choices. This post can help guide you if you really like ivory but, like me, wish to save animals for being slaughtered.
As we move through the alphabet of ivory bills, I'd like to point out a significant, if not obvious, detail: each state is different. While all ivory bills seek to stop the killing of elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia, each state has proposed a law that best fits its situation.
Some bills seek to protect more species than just elephants, stretching to include marine animals as well. These states are mostly on the coast, and therefore have that concern. Others, like Indiana, simply seek to take preventative measures so that ivory does not become a rampant trade, and to keep their state from becoming a gateway for ivory to pass through.
So as you look through each bill, think about what makes them different, and why each is important for the survival of keystone species. If we can get the buying to stop, the killing will too.
The race is on: In 2015, over 10 states introduced legislative bills to ban ivory in their states. But only one was passed into law. So what happened to the others? Well, find out, and see if your state has joined the international fight to become #ivoryfree.
"I need answers."
The fire in her voice showed an inflamed passion. In my mind's eye I could almost see sparks shooting from her eyes. Christina LaMonica has spent the last two years fighting the ivory trade in Ohio, with relative success, so when she discovered a new roadblock, she started lighting her matches.
I listened to his voice, searching for a hint of emotion. He was relaxed, speaking freely and calmly. He betrayed nothing; I could hear no frustration and urgency in his tone, a stark contrast to his message. He was perhaps the calmest advocate I've ever spoken with, but beneath that tranquility is a dedicated fighter in the battle against ivory.
His name is Dustin Thibideau, and he is Ivory Free Indiana.
On Wednesday afternoon I had the privilege of speaking with Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, who recently introduced House Bill 1537 to prohibit ivory trading and sales within the state.
Rep. Dean told me that she learned of the ivory trade fairly recently. "Truly, if I had spoken to you a year and a half ago, I would not have had this issue on my radar at all," she said. Dean credits her brother with giving her a knowledge and passion for saving elephants. "He has been talking about elephants for years and years," she said. "I eventually had to stop and say, 'What are you saying?' 'What am I missing?'"
Just as gay marriage laws became a recent trend among state legislatures, anti-ivory trade laws are popping up all over the nation. But what exactly do these laws (or in some cases, bills) say? What exactly is legal or illegal when it comes to possessing and selling ivory in America? Well, I'm glad you asked, because that's what I'm going to talk about in this post!
This post is the last installment of the In-depth series, so I thought I'd end on a happy note: what's being done to stop poaching in Africa. As I covered in my last post, poaching is a complex and organized crime, so stopping it isn't easy. But there are several different angles that governments and organizations have approached anti-poaching, and so far, their efforts are making a difference.
Kerry Skiff is a conservation advocate and recent journalism graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She follows the ivory trade around the world, and uses her voice to educate Americans about their role in animal conservation.