BLADE Magazine

Knife Laws: Mammoth and Elephant Ivory Bans to Watch

Titanium knife photo

The Protégé by Johnny Stout boasts mammoth ivory scales and fileworked titanium liners. (Caleb Royer image)

Mammoth ivory handle knife
Bruce Bingenheimer’s BingaLor folders have handles of mammoth ivory. (Caleb Royer image)

New Mammoth and Elephant Ivory Bans

New laws in three states target mammoth ivory—ivory of an animal that has been extinct for several millennia—elephant ivory or both for bans, according to the Elephant Protection Association.

“Illinois and New Hampshire are the most recent states that will enact bans,” noted the association’s Sandra Brady. “This follows Nevada, which enacted their ban, including mammoth and fossil ivories, earlier in the year.”

The Illinois ban includes both elephant and mammoth ivory, while the New Hampshire ban is on elephant ivory only.

Brady said the latter two bans go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

According to the latest lists BLADE® was able to obtain, states that ban the sale of mammoth ivory in addition to Nevada include California, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York. States with proposed legislation in process that would include banning mammoth ivory are Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

There are probably more as well.

Specifics of the Bans

New laws in three states target mammoth ivory—ivory of an animal that has been extinct for several millennia—elephant ivory or both for bans. Jim Provost’s damascus dagger sports a handle of mammoth ivory fluted and inlaid with silver wire. Contact Provost at Dept. BL12, 1634 Lakeview Dr., Laurel, MS 39440 601-498-1143. (Caleb Royer)

Illinois HB4843 will ban “any tooth or tusk composed of ivory from any animal, including, but not limited to, an elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, narwhal, walrus, or whale, or any piece thereof, whether raw ivory or worked ivory, or made into, or part of, an ivory product.”

New Hampshire SB 451 will ban elephant but not mammoth or walrus ivory.

Nevada SB 194 reads “a person shall not purchase, sell, offer for sale or possess with intent to sell any item that is, wholly or partially, made of an animal part or byproduct derived from a shark fin, a lion of the species Panthera leo or any species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, mammoth, narwhal, walrus or hippopotamus,” except as otherwise provided by state law.

Why Mammoth Ivory Bans?

Raffir fossil mammoth ivory comprises the handle of Danish knifemaker Tommy Astrup’s mosaic damascus fixed blade.

Though bans on elephant ivory have many supporters, the bans adversely affect the local populations of Africans who depend on the legal trade in ivory for their economic well-being. Also, the elephant ivory ban is resulting in an overpopulation of elephants in some areas of Africa, an overpopulation that unduly taxes the environment at the expense of other wild animals.

As a result, as Brady noted, “Several bird species are hanging on by a thread or have disappeared altogether, and much of the habitat is being destroyed. We don’t know how bad the trickle-down effect will ultimately be, but you can be sure that it will not be good.”

Ironically, not only does banning elephant ivory impact both the pocketbooks and habitat of Africans, it also has resulted in the banning of the ivory of mammoth, a creature that has not walked the earth for 4,000 years. The reason is simple enough: money. The state governments cannot even afford to administer the fallout from their own wrongheaded bans on elephant ivory.

According to The Journal of Paleontological Sciences, smugglers have been marking shipments of elephant ivory as fossil or mammoth ivory to get them past U.S. Customs. While the differences between elephant and mammoth ivory have been recognized for some time—see this website for more on how to tell the differences—five state legislatures seem to have decided to save money and simply banned all ivory. New York and New Jersey were the first states to do so.

According to its mission statement, the Elephant Protection Association opposes such overbroad and harmful bans that undermine successful conservation programs, and raises funds for animal rights aligned groups only. For more information visit

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