New York Department of Environmental Conservation agents conducted an ivory sting on a 72-year-old woman for selling a mammoth ivory bead necklace.
In its effort to stop elephant poaching and the trade in illegal ivory, the government has insisted that it does not care about small-time, mom-and-pop-type ivory owners, that it’s more concerned with international crime syndicates and environmental terrorists. However, the recent ivory sting operation by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) on a 72-year-old woman for selling a necklace containing beads of mammoth—that’s right, mammoth, not elephant—ivory at the Pier Antique Show in New York City indicates the NYDEC apparently failed to get the government memo on the matter.
For knife enthusiasts, the question now is how soon the NYDEC—as well as its counterpart in New Jersey—will start targeting knives with handles of mammoth, mastodon and other ancient ivories, as well as elephant ivory.
Of course, though beyond all reason, mammoth ivory—the tusks of an animal extinct for thousands of years—has been declared illegal to sell in the state of New York and also New Jersey. However, since the senior citizen at the Pier Antique Show is from North Carolina, it’s understandable that she was completely oblivious to the New York law—especially considering how ridiculous it is to outlaw something millennia old in the first place. In addition to the necklace, the agents seized $1,400 worth of jewelry from her in all.
NYDEC agents did not stop with stinging the little old lady from Carolina. They also seized a couple of sets of “teethers”—whale bone or ivory sticks crudely carved by 19th-century sailors for babies to cut their teeth on—from a New York folk art dealer. The agents seized the teethers and issued both the folk art dealer and the little old lady from Carolina summons to appear in court.
Following the show, the folk art dealer and his wife learned he would need a lawyer because he faces a $5,000 fine if convicted of dealing illegal ivory. When he asked about getting a license to sell ivory in accordance with New York law, he said he was told all such license applications sit in a pile in the state capital, ostensibly collecting dust.
“This kind of government heavy-handedness is what we warned people about when the President’s Advisory Council started talking about imposing an ivory ban in March 2013,” noted Rob Mitchell of elephantprotection.org. “Instead of going after Chinese smugglers and criminal syndicates, the government is persecuting the most vulnerable and least culpable citizens in zealous pursuit of ivory ban enforcement statistics. No living animal was helped by this, but innocent small businesses will be crushed.”
The fight against the domestic ivory ban—a ban that won’t save a single elephant but will needlessly punish innocent Americans who own and trade legally imported ivory—is ongoing, and many Americans have been helping. Their “activism is why the federal government is taking its time publishing the regulation we expect will alter or revoke the Special Rule on African elephants that allows pre-ban ivory trade in the USA,” Mitchell noted. “Unfortunately, non-government organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the Wildlife Conservation Society have been busy with a PR campaign against ivory. They are continuing to lobby both the federal government and many individual states for an ivory ban.”
You can help stop them and protect commerce in pre-ban ivory. For information on how you can contact all of your elected officials and voice your concerns, CLICK HERE.
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