Oregonians can do their part for wildlife by voting yes on Measure 100

By Brad Nahill

Oregon is generally considered a pro-environment state and, in many ways, it is. Our state is rich in windmills, protected natural areas and wildlife.

But there is one way that the Beaver State falls short: It is currently legal to sell parts of endangered wildlife, including things like turtle shell jewelry (made from the shell of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle), ivory from elephants and shark fins.

Wildlife trafficking is a huge problem. It rivals the drug trade in size, decimating wild areas around the world and providing revenue for terrorism. An estimated 35,000 elephants are killed every year, turtle shell jewelry can be found for sale in 70 percent to 90 percent of souvenir shops in Latin America, and 100 million sharks are killed annually for their fins and other parts.

These aren't just numbers. Without hawksbill turtles, coral reefs suffer from overpopulation of sponges. Ocean ecosystems around the world need sharks at the top of the food chain to keep populations in balance. Elephants, lions, cheetahs and other animals are important for both wild places and tourist economies across Africa.

Voting yes on measure 100 will have a real impact on wildlife conservation efforts around the world. Our neighbors in Washington, California and Hawaii have all passed laws restricting the sale of endangered animals. Oregon is the last holdout. The good news is that Oregonians have the chance to act. Measure 100 will outlaw the sale of parts from 12 different kinds of wild and endangered animals, covering dozens of species from around the world. But the measure's provisions won't affect people who have things like ivory handed down as family heirlooms, antiques or musical instruments.

If Measure 100 passes, Oregon closes a gap by helping to create an important barrier along the entire contiguous West Coast, making it harder to illegally import these animal parts into the country.

It's time for Oregon to step up and help reduce the illegal trade in endangered species. Measure 100 is the way to do it.

Brad Nahill is director and co-founder of SEE Turtles, based in Beaverton.