Cuomo signs Lanza bill to toughen penalties against illegal ivory trade
Staten Island Advance, August 14th, 2014
ALBANY, N.Y. — State Sen. Andrew Lanza’s law to toughen penalties against illegal ivory sales has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The law bans the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory, and rhinoceros horns, with limited exceptions for products such as antiques demonstrated to be at least 100 years old and containing only a small amount of ivory.
“Poachers who are supporting terrorism and the drug trade are acting with impunity helped in part by receptive markets in New York City and Asia,” said Lanza (R-Staten Island). “We will make a difference right here in New York with this new law which will lead to higher conviction rates and tough criminal sentences.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that 96 elephants are killed every day to fuel the ivory trade, with some species of elephants and rhinos threatened with extinction.
New York is believed to be the largest market for ivory in the United States.
The new law expands the scope of activities that are illegal in New York and increases criminal and civil penalties to deter people from violating this law.
Cuomo signed the legislation on World Elephant Day, a day devoted to raising awareness of threats to Asian and African elephants and their habitats.
“New York State is taking a stand against a dangerous and cruel industry that is endangering animals across the world,” Cuomo said. “Restricting the market for ivory articles will help bring an end to the slaughtering of elephants and rhinoceroses and sends a clear message that we will not allow the illegal ivory trade to continue in New York.”
The new law was spurred by a 2012 a joint investigation by the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Manhattan district attorney’s office that led to the seizure of elephant ivory worth more than $2 million from jewelers based in New York City.
The new law is dedicated to the late Lt. John Fitzpatrick, a longtime environmental conservation officer for DEC, who spearheaded investigations of illegal ivory sales. He died this year at the age of 46.