Current federal law [Director's Order No. 210], passed in 2014, limits ivory trade by, among other things, halting commercial importation and limiting exportation and interstate sale. Now, however, California, following the lead of several other states, is attempting to bring even greater limitations to the ivory trade, as described below.
As a result, the Ivory Education Institute has filed suit against the State of California, as well as the US Department of Fish and Wildlife, in an attempt to stop the state law from going into effect.
IEI, an organization formed in 2014 to advance the interests of ivory collectors, hopes to strike downAssembly Bill 96. The argument is that the bill violates the US Constitution's Commerce Clause and Taking Clause.
The California Assembly Bill follows on the heels of the federal regulation's 2014 passage, criminalizing the trade of any ivory, save for a few exceptions.
Under the California Assembly Bill 96, due to go into effect July 1, selling any form of ivory will be considered a criminal act, with fines ranging between $1,000 to $10,000 for the first offense. Fines will escalate with additional convictions. Current federal penalties are one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for an individual, $200,000 for an organization.
The bill repeals a state statute that allowed the trade of pre-1977 ivory art pieces.
We recommend that ivory collectors and curators contact an art lawyer when considering to move an ivory collection to California or to conduct any ivory transactions involving a California buyer or seller.