Washington Voters Approve Anti-Wildlife-Trafficking Initiative, I-1401, In a Landslide

Oregon Voters Should Next Have a Chance to Replicate the Most Comprehensive Anti-Poaching Law Approved in Any State

Washington voters have approved I-1401 to severely restrict the trade in parts of ten species of animals threatened with extinction, with the measure currently leading by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent. Initiated by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and backed by The Humane Society of the United States, I-1401 bans the trade in the parts of elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, pangolins, leopards, cheetahs, sharks, rays and marine turtles and is the nation's most comprehensive anti-wildlife-trafficking law enacted in any state.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: "This is an enormous momentum-builder for the movement in the United States to shut down the commerce in trinkets, powders and pelts that are driving some of the world's most iconic creatures to the precipice of extinction. The animals need their tusks, horns, heads and hides more than we do, and Washington voters have given our movement a shot in the arm with this resounding vote."

The political committee known as Save Endangered Animals Oregon, also led by The Humane Society of the United States, is seeking to qualify a similar initiative in Oregon and to pass it a year from now. Volunteers have gathered a preliminary round of more than 1,500 signatures, which have been submitted to the Secretary of State. A second, much larger, round of signature gathering could begin by the end of the year, with the goal of placing the Save Endangered Animals Oregon measure on the November 2016 ballot.

Bruce Starr, one of three chief petitioners and former Oregon State Senator, said: "A state measure to ban the trade in endangered animal parts is a non-partisan effort that all concerned citizens can feel good about supporting. It also concerns our national security, because we know that some of the world's worst terrorist organizations are directly involved in wildlife trafficking. This measure will not only save endangered animals, but also send a strong message that the poachers, smugglers, and their criminal sponsors, will find no safe haven in our state.

Tom Hughes, a chief petitioner and council president of Metro, which runs Oregon Zoo, said: "People often express despair over the poaching crisis that threatens to push our wildlife to extinction, and wonder how they can possibly make a difference to stop it. This measure is the answer to that question. Simply put, a yes vote on this measure is the single most important step people can take to save endangered animals."

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-3rd, also a chief petitioner, said: "Federal laws can only go so far in protecting endangered animals. This measure will provide a much-needed layer of enforcement authority and give federal agencies the help they need to completely shut down the black market trade in endangered animal parts."

Jani Iverson, director of the Oregon Zoo Foundation, said: "For generations, the Oregon Zoo has inspired people to care about threatened and endangered species from around the world. This measure gives Oregonians an opportunity to take action to help protect elephants, rhinos, and many species from the threat of extinction. A yes vote is a clear signal that Oregon is serious about saving wildlife."

The Humane Society of the United States and its partners are working across the country to shut down the market for parts of these rare and threatened species. Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn, and in 2014, New Jersey and New York passed similar laws at our urging.

In addition to drying up the demand for ivory in the states, The Humane Society of the United States is also supporting the Obama Administration's effort to adopt a final federal rule to stem the illegal ivory trade here in the United States. Our country is the second largest market for ivory products in the world after China, so we have a key role to play in encouraging responsible policies toward wildlife trafficking both within our borders and as a global conservation leader. Last month, in a historic and game-changing announcement, the president of China announced his country would replicate the looming U.S. ban on the commercial trade in ivory.

"With the efforts at the state and federal level in the United States, and the decision by China to join our movement, we have an incredible opportunity to put a stop to the mass slaughter of elephants and other creatures around the world," added Pacelle.