After having failed at the Legislature in the past two sessions, bills to ban the sale of endangered wildlife parts and products are moving forward in both the state Senate and House this year.
They face favorable odds toward final passage, according to those behind the legislation.
After passing the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, House Bill 2502 now awaits action by the full House. Senate Bill 2647 cleared the Senate earlier this week and now faces two committee referrals. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has submitted testimony in support of both measures.
The bills are a response, in part, to a report two years ago that identified New York, California and Hawaii as the nation’s top three ivory markets.
Elephant poaching for ivory tusks has decimated populations around the world; but pachyderms aren’t the only animals that would be protected under the Hawaii bills. Sales of products and parts from species ranging from endangered rhinoceroses to walruses to Hawaiian monk seals would be banned, along with those from a long and colorful list of other threatened animals.
Those sales already are illegal under federal law. But once products made from those animals are smuggled into the United States, proponents say it’s tough to stop their illegal trade — unless the states where it’s taking place have their own laws against it.
New York and California already have passed such laws, and wildlife activists are concerned that without its own law, Hawaii could become the nation’s top state for those illegal sales. The Hawaii market is already thick with “white gold” products coming in from…
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