Tag Archives: ivory

CDFW Wildlife Officers Crack Down on Ivory Trafficking

Investigations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have culminated in illegal trafficking of wildlife cases pending in Los Angeles and Alameda counties, and in San Francisco.

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In recent weeks, CDFW’s Wildlife Trafficking Team worked three separate investigations:

  • CDFW wildlife officers intercepted and seized 377 items of jewelry containing pieces labeled as mammoth ivory at an air cargo terminal in Los Angeles, following a report from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspectors regarding the unlawful commercial importation. The ivory was shipped from Indonesia into California. Criminal charges will be recommended to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.
  • CDFW wildlife officers and USFWS inspectors intercepted a shipment of three boxes from Indonesia containing 116 items made of python skin. The items included large and small purses, large bags and a variety of wallets. Like ivory and rhinoceros horn, it is unlawful to import into California for commercial purposes the dead body or parts of a python. The items were seized, and criminal charges will be recommended to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for the suspected violations.
  • Wildlife officers also worked with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to crackdown on illicit trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn in San Francisco. Wildlife officers inspected several businesses in San Francisco and found two with significant violations. Wildlife officers seized a solid bone pagoda and a rhinoceros horn bracelet at one location. At another location they seized 18 statuettes ranging from 15 to 26 inches containing suspected pieces of ivory and 37 statuettes ranging in size from one-half inch to six inches suspected to be made entirely from ivory. They also seized suspected whale teeth, two ivory chess sets and two carved tusks labeled as mammoth ivory. The total value of the seized items from the San Francisco operation is estimated at over $500,000. Criminal charges will be recommended to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.

CDFW wildlife officers have submitted formal complaints to prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Alameda counties.  Prosecutors will determine whether charges will be filed.  No arrests have been made to date.

A law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California took effect July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited. The legislation helped fund the team of CDFW officers to focus on ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife trafficking, including training and laboratory capability for evidence analysis.

“Under Governor Brown’s leadership, laws to combat illegal wildlife trafficking have been substantially strengthened,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The creation of our Wildlife Trafficking Team and enhancement of our laboratory and legal staff are important steps in stopping the epidemic of poaching and trafficking of wildlife in California and around the world. This effort by our wildlife officers demonstrates that the black market trafficking of wildlife in California will not be tolerated. We stand ready beside our federal and state partners, as well as District Attorneys across the state to take these poachers and traffickers out of business.”

Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:

  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than five percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
  • Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.

Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977. The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

California Ivory Ban Now in Effect

Signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last October, a new law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California is effective as of July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues its active role with our federal partners to end wildlife trafficking, which poses a critical threat to conservation throughout the world,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “This law provides another tool to aid in this effort.”
Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than 5 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
  • Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.
California has a long history in the legal and illegal trafficking market of ivory within the United States. Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977.
The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.
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Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

The Future of Wildlife Is In Our Hands

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes World Wildlife Day, declared by the United Nations (UN). On March 3, 2013 the UN General Assembly signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“Poaching persists today across the globe and right here in California,” Chief of CDFW Law Enforcement Division David Bess said. “Wildlife officers dedicate their lives to stopping poachers – in particular, those who illegally sell wildlife and their parts for personal profit.”

Illegal commercialization of wildlife is a multi-million dollar industry right here in California, and is valued at hundreds of millions worldwide. The illegal black market trafficking of wildlife could be eliminated if people simply refused to purchase wildlife or wildlife parts.

California’s wildlife officers routinely work with our federal counterparts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent people from smuggling wildlife parts into California. Even with combined forces, we can only stop a fraction of the illegal poaching contraband that enters the state.

Many species of wildlife around the world face extinction because of people who capture them for the illegal pet trade or kill them for their body parts. According to a report released by the Secretariat of CITES, more than 20,000 African elephants were poached across the continent in 2013. The ivory trade has been illegal for years, yet poachers continue to make money selling it to people who carve it into art and trinkets, then sell it to collectors and others around the world.

“We celebrate World Wildlife Day to raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants, and their importance in every ecosystem,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Our department’s employees are passionate about the work we do as the state wildlife trustee agency and are committed to our mission to manage California’s native wildlife.”

CDFW joins the United Nations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many other individuals and organizations asking the public to help protect the world’s wildlife by reporting crimes, including illegal trade in wildlife and their body parts. Phone Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) at 888-334-2258 or send a text to “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message: to 847411 (tip411).

Alternatively, you can download the free CALTIP smartphone App, which operates similarly to tip411 by creating an anonymous two-way conversation to report wildlife and pollution violations to wildlife officers. The CALTIP App can be downloaded, free, via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

More information can be found on the CDFW website:
Elephant Ivory, sale of in California (PDF)
Elephant Ivory, state and federal laws regarding (PDF)
Restricted Species – Penal Code Section 653(o) (PDF)

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Media Contacts:
Chris Stoots, Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420