Since January, I’ve spent a few hours every weekend collecting signatures for the Save Endangered Animals Oregon ballot measure, which would prohibit the sale of products and parts from sea turtles, sharks, rays, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs and other critically threatened or endangered species.
By the end, I had collected nearly 1,500 signatures in the Eugene area.
I found it amazing how universally supported this measure is among Oregon voters.
I would commonly get two questions asked: Isn’t it already illegal? And is this a problem here in Oregon?
Just a few weeks ago, we saw a high-profile wildlife trafficking case in Portland, showing us this is a problem and it happens in Oregon.
Local enforcement is key when you talk about wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking laws apply when bringing products from state to state, or bringing them into the state from outside the United States.
There is a clear loophole still open here: Once products arrive, we have no state laws and no local enforcement. The capacity of local federal fish and wildlife agents to help is extremely limited.
The U.S. has a chance to fully remove itself from the problem if we can pass meaningful state laws to prohibit the purchase and sale within each state.
Oregon can make a difference for imperiled wildlife this November.
We can join Washington, California and Hawaii by passing this law to crack down on wildlife trafficking, and completely shut it down on the West Coast.