New York Orders Comprehensive Ivory Ban

Decorated_ivoryNew York: New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation yesterday that amends the state’s environmental law to ban elephant ivory, mammoth ivory and rhino horn sales in New York.

This state legislation enhances federal efforts to tighten the ivory trade ban on a federal level. Under the law, this permanent ban on the sales of these products has only a few small exceptions. The legislation authorizes New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation to issue permits for the sale of the following items made from these products:

  • 100 year-old antiques comprised of less than 20 percent elephant ivory with documented proof of provenance;
  • Musical instruments (string, wind and piano) manufactured prior to 1975;
  • Elephant ivory where transfer of ownership is for education and scientific purposes including to a museum authorized by special charter from the legislature;
  • Elephant ivory where transfer is to a legal beneficiary of a trust or estate.

All other sales of these products are now banned in New York. The law also increases penalties for violation, including: a fine of $3,000 or 2x the value of the article, whichever is greater, for the first offense, and a fine of $6,000 or 3x the value of the article, whichever is greater for the second offense. Selling articles with a value exceeding $25,000 is now a Class D Felony, with a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment.

This law takes effect immediately. Existing license and permit holders may sell ivory and rhino horn as defined on their licenses and permits until the current licenses or permits expire. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is directed to provide additional information on following this new ban within 30 days.

New York now joins New Jersey, where the New Jersey state legislature this year approved a bill prohibiting most sales of ivory (elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, narwhal, walrus, or whale) and rhino horn. New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law on August 5, 2014.