Championing Oregon citizens’ commitment to stop wildlife trade

Because the United States is one of the largest markets for wildlife products in the world, measures to restrict wildlife trade at the state level are needed.On Sunday I had the privilege of joining a group of committed animal welfare and conservation advocates, including members of the Save Endangered Animals Oregon coalition, to celebrate widespread support for Measure 100. This Oregon state ballot initiative, if passed, will protect imperilled species—elephants, whales, rhinos, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, pangolins, sea turtles, sharks and rays—by banning trade in their parts statewide, with very limited exceptions.

The United States is one of the largest markets for wildlife products in the world, and only a small minority of these animals’ parts are identified and confiscated at the point of import.

The many items that are brought into the country are subject to minimal scrutiny once they have crossed the border. Measure 100 would ensure that Oregon no longer serves as a market for a wide range of wild animal parts and products, in turn reducing demand and the accompanying incentives for poachers to kill iconic species.

If Oregon’s voters pass Measure 100, the state will join Washington, California, Hawaii, New York and New Jersey in establishing state-wide policies to curb wildlife trade.

Respected political leaders—including those who worked to get this initiative onto the ballot—joined in Saturday’s gathering. They, along with other impassioned Oregonians, voiced strong support for advancing the state’s role in bringing an end to wildlife trafficking.

Their words reminded me that although there are many obstacles in the fight to end wildlife trafficking, there is reason for hope.

As Oregonians move forward with a citizen-driven effort to curb their state’s role in the decline of imperilled animals, the White House and the US Congress have taken on the issue at the national level, and the international community has come together (for both the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the CITES Conference of the Parties) to identify cross-boundary strategies for protecting the world’s declining species. IFAW will continue to work with diverse leaders and stakeholder groups around the world to bring an end to wildlife trafficking and trade.  

--CB

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