OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6955

AN ACT PROHIBITING THE SALE AND TRADE OF IVORY AND RHINOCEROS HORN.

SUMMARY:

This bill generally bans the import, sale, purchase, and barter of any animal's tooth or tusk (“ivory”) or rhinoceros horn or products made from them. It exempts ivory, horn, or associated products if they are (1) allowed under federal law or the subject of law enforcement activity, (2) a certain age, (3) incorporated into certain musical instruments, (4) transferred to a legal beneficiary, or (5) for education, conservation, or scientific purposes.

The bill also prohibits someone from offering the banned products for sale or possessing them with intent to sell. It specifies that possessing the ivory, horn, or an associated product in a retail or wholesale location commonly used to buy or sell animal-derived products is prima facie evidence of intent to sell. Obtaining an appraisal of the ivory, horn, or product, however, does not constitute such evidence.

The bill makes a violation a class B misdemeanor (see below). It also requires (1) seizure of the ivory or horn when an arrest is made and (2) upon a conviction, a donation to certain organizations such as hospitals, museums, or universities.

Conforming to the ban, the bill repeals a provision requiring the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner to adopt regulations on the trade of raw elephant ivory or products made from the ivory if he finds that it contributes to elephant endangerment or extinction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016

SCOPE OF BAN

The bill's ban applies to:

1. ivory, which includes any animal's tooth or tusk, or any part of it, including but not limited to one from elephants, hippopotami, narwhals, walruses, or whales;

2. horn, or any part of it, from any rhinoceros species; and

3. any product that has, in whole or part, ivory or rhinoceros horn.

The ivory covered by the bill includes ivory that (1) has an unaltered or minimally carved surface (raw ivory) or (2) is embellished, carved, marked, or otherwise altered so that it is no longer raw ivory (worked ivory).

The bill exempts ivory, rhinoceros horn, or their associated products, if it:

1. is authorized under a federal license or permit;

2. is at least 100 years old;

3. was part of a musical instrument before January 2, 1975;

4. is transferred to a legal beneficiary upon the owner's death, or in anticipation of death, and the owner did not obtain the ivory, horn, or product counter to the bill's provisions;

5. is for a hospital, museum, or university for bona fide educational, conservatorial, or scientific reasons allowed by federal law; or

6. possessed by federal or state employees or agents as part of law enforcement activity or other required duties (see BACKGROUND).

PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS

Criminal Penalties

The bill makes violating the ban a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison, a fine, or both. It subjects a first-time violator to a fine of at least $1,000 or twice the total value of the ivory, horn, or product, whichever is greater. Subsequent violations are subject to a fine of at least $5,000 or twice the total value of the ivory, horn, or product. Under the bill, the total value is the greater of the (1) fair market value or (2) actual price paid.

Confiscation

The bill requires a court to order seizure of the ivory, horn, or associated product when an arrest is made. After a conviction for a violation of the bill's provisions, seized items must be donated to an educational, conservatorial, or scientific institution or organization, such as a hospital, museum, or university.

BACKGROUND

Related International Law

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty that restricts the international trade of certain plants and animals. Currently, 179 countries, including the United States, are parties to the treaty. CITES regulates the commercial and noncommercial trade of elephants, including their ivory and ivory products.

Related Federal Law

The United States regulates trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn under such laws as the African Elephant Conservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and CITES, and their implementing regulations. A permit or other documentation is often required. A 2014 Fish and Wildlife Service order (Director's Order No. 2010) requires strict implementation and enforcement of these laws, and the agency is amending its regulations to increase commercial trade restrictions. Certain items are exempt, including sport-hunting trophies, scientific specimens, ivory that is part of a musical instrument, ivory that is inherited if removed from the wild prior to a certain date, and other lawfully-acquired ivory.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

25

Nay

4

(03/20/2015)