The U.S. is finally realizing that its massive ivory trade must be stopped.
Just days after California proposed a statewide ban to close loopholes and completely outlaw selling ivory, the Washington State legislature introduced its own bill to impose stricter regulations on the ivory and rhino horn trade.
The bill, HB 1131, would "prohibit the import, sale, purchase, barter, and possession with intent to sell, of any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product."
Ivory and rhino horn bans have already been passed in New York and New Jersey. Washington's ban is similar to these in that it carries some exemptions for antique ivory and for ivory used in musical instruments - which would be allowed if they were made before 1976.
The state ban is a complement to the Obama Administration's National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, which banned ivory imports and interstate sales. But state bans allow law enforcement to regulate the trade within their borders, and to prosecute local trading rings.
It's high time for the U.S. to get serious about ending the ivory trade - the country is the second-largest consumer of ivory, after China. An African elephant is killed every 15 minutes, and at that rate, the species could be extinct by 2020.