Oregon Ballot Measure Seeks To Protect Endangered Species From Poaching
The trafficking of certain animal parts around the world continues to encourage the black market poaching of endangered species. Following the failure of a bill in the State legislature to ban the commercial sale of certain animal parts, the group Save Endangered Animals Oregon, have decided to put the bill directly to voters. KLCC’s Desmond O’Boyle speaks with Campaign Director, Scott Beckstead.
O’Boyle: “The trafficking of certain animal parts around the world continues to encourage the black market poaching of endangered species. In 2015, California passed an initiative banning the trade of ivory or rhino in the state to discourage the practice. Washington Voters have approved a similar measure. In November, Oregonians will have an opportunity to vote on a similar bill. I am joined by Save Endangered Animals Oregon Campaign Director, Scott Beckstead, to talk about the bill. Good afternoon Scott.”
Beckstead: “Good afternoon Desmond, great to be here.”
O’Boyle: “How serious is animal trafficking in Oregon?”
Beckstead: “Well, we know it’s a problem Desmond. You’ve got pretty steady trade in some of these products from endangered animals. And for example, we know that at an antique show last summer up near Portland, we had some people go, and there was a retailer there selling elephant ivory, and when our people asked: is this all legal? He said, ‘What you are seeing is legal, but I can take you in the back room and show you all of the illegal stuff.’ And sure enough, he had behind the scenes, a fairly good quantity of poached elephant ivory. And he said the demand for that illegal ivory here in Oregon was pretty constant.”
O’Boyle: “What animal parts are we talking about specifically?”
Beckstead: “Well, we are talking everything from elephant ivory to rhino horns, to lion and tiger skins, to sea turtle shells; we have identified 12 types of animals that are the most critically endangered species in the world.”
O’Boyle: “Your website described having a “west coast firewall” to prevent the trafficking on animal parts because California and Washington have enacted similar laws. Why is it important for Oregon to join other western states by enacting these restrictions?”
Beckstead: “The reason why it’s so important for Oregon to pass this measure is because all three west coast states have international ports. And we receive a lot of goods from other countries, especially Pacific Rim countries, where there is an active trade in these black market products. So, it becomes especially important because Oregon does have an international port to make sure that the poachers and the smugglers know that they are going to have no safe haven for their products here in Oregon.”
O’Boyle: “Can you describe transactions that are included in the commercial market, and what impact these laws, if passed, would have on that market?”
Beckstead: “So, the measure imposes serious financial penalties, felony level fines, on anyone who engages in the trafficking of these animal parts or products that are derived from these endangered animals. If we are going to stop the poaching of these animals, we really have to shut down the commercial market.”
O’Boyle: “What impact would this law have on the non-commercial private market?”
Beckstead: “The measure does not ban the possession of these products, and you can still, for example, still pass these products on to your heirs and beneficiaries through your will or your trust. You can gift these items, and you can donate these items. So, what we are aiming at is the commercial buying and selling of these endangered animal parts here in Oregon with some common sense exemptions. For example, a de minimis amount of ivory in musical instruments, like antique pianos. De minimis amounts of ivory in bonafide antiques that are at least 100 years old. So for example, granddads old ivory-handled revolver is going to be exempt. Again, what we are trying to do is eliminate the commercial market in these poached items that have been recently poached from endangered animals and then brought here to Oregon for transactions.”
O’Boyle: “Why is this issue important to you, personally?”
Beckstead: “I think it’s important to anyone who cares about animals and cares about our natural world. When I talk to people, I think it’s important to anyone who cares about animals and who cares about our natural world. When I talk to people and ask them about what their top animal welfare concerns are, the global poaching crisis is really among their top priorities. People see that we are losing upward of 96 elephants a day to the ivory poaching crisis. We know that rhinoceroses are on a crash course with extinction if we don’t do something to protect them from poaching. People care very deeply about the global poaching crisis, but unfortunately, often feel like they are powerless to do anything about that. So this measure is really aimed at giving people an opportunity to do something about the global poaching crisis and make sure that Oregon is a place where the trafficking of endangered animal parts and products doesn’t happen.”
O’Boyle: “Scott Beckstead is the Campaign Director for Save Endangered Animals Oregon. He will be speaking about the Wildlife Trafficking Prevention Act, 6:30 tonight at Lane Community College in Eugene.”
EUGENE: Thursday, Feb. 25, 6:30 p.m.
SALEM: Friday, Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m.
PORTLAND: Saturday, Feb. 27, 4:30 p.m.
BEND: Sunday, Feb. 28, 2:00 p.m.
EUGENE: Lane Community College, 4000 East 30th Ave., Bldg 4, Classroom106
SALEM: Best Western Mill Creek Inn, 3125 Ryan Drive
SE PORTLAND: Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont St.
BEND: The Environmental Center, 16 NW Kansas Ave.