Friday, September 25, 2015

From Knife Rights On Proposed Ivory Ban

I am a firm believer in conservation. Notice I said conservation and not preservation. Preservation is for artworks; conservation is for land and animals. Locking up a forest makes it susceptible to disease and fire. Likewise, legitimate hunting of elephants and other ivory bearing animals gives them an economic value. With an economic value comes protection and anti-poaching initiatives. I may never hunt an elephant but I recognize that both the numbers and herd health will be helped by hunting.

Banning the trade in ivory legitimately brought into the United States in the 20th century will do nothing to stop current poachers. If anything, it will increase the economic reward to poachers. It is akin to the so-called war on drugs. Efforts to dry up supply just increase the street price of cocaine, meth, etc. and increase the incentive to the cartels to try and smuggle it into the country.

The comments on the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal close on Monday. I sent my comment in today. Here is what Knife Rights has to say about it:

Comments are due on Monday, September 28, 2015, to oppose the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Proposed Rule Change that would implement a domestic ivory ban affecting millions of Americans, including owners of ivory-handled knives and knives with ivory embellishment. With very few very limited exceptions, it would be illegal to buy, sell or trade any ivory or any item with even the smallest bit of ivory included. Not a single elephant will be saved by punishing owners of decades-old perfectly legal ivory that has been in this country since before import bans were implemented in 1990. Practically all the poached ivory goes to China or Asian countries, virtually none of it come to the U.S. (Click here for additional details on the Proposed Rule Change and a link to the published NPRM)

Knife Rights abhors the poaching of all species. The proven solution is to attack poaching at the source, not punish lawful ivory owners in the U.S. who cannot have any effect on poaching in Africa. Successful anti-poaching programs in Africa have demonstrated that an integrated comprehensive approach that encourages the locals to fight poaching does work to save elephants.

Stealing the investments of millions of Americans will not save a single elephant in Africa. This is the worst kind of "Feel Good - Do Bad" government action.
As of Wednesday, Sept. 23, over 1,500 comments have been submitted. Too many are from people who make simplistic and emotional statements about saving elephants or repeat factually unsupported slogans from non-profit organizations making millions of dollars off this campaign to ban ivory.  However, many others are thoughtful comments explaining why the proposed rule punishes innocent Americans without doing anything to stop poaching in Africa. We need you to add your voice of reason to those opposing this absurd, abusive and illegal ivory ban.

Ideally, your comment should be personal and specific, but comment regardless.  Form letter comments are not as effective as individual comments, but regardless, please comment because every comment in opposition counts! Use the information below to develop your comment.
* The Proposed Rule Change is arbitrary and capricious.  It punishes people who have invested in ivory, including ivory-handled knives and knives with ivory embellishment, that was legally imported decades ago which has nothing to do with recent African elephant poaching. The government should focus resources on stopping poachers in Africa and prosecuting criminals who smuggle ivory to Asia if it wants to stop elephant poaching.  Punishing innocent Americans who own or trade ivory that was legally brought to this country before the poaching crisis has no rational relationship to poaching African elephants, so the Proposed Rule Change seriously violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

* FWS misrepresented data and studies about ivory in the United States.  CITES data shows that hundreds of tons of illegal ivory flows to China and Asia, but almost none of it comes to the United States.  Even Dr. Daniel Stiles, an expert FWS relied upon in the Proposed Rule Change, submitted a comment pointing out how FWS has misrepresented his research.!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091-0415 The legal ivory import control system in place before February 2014 was working in the United States, and government prosecutions show that they were certainly capable of investigating and successfully prosecuting the very few people who break the law.  Creating a new class of criminals from people who need to sell or trade in otherwise legal ivory will waste resources, distract from enforcement efforts against actual poachers and smugglers, and unfairly persecute people who abided by international trade bans that were already in place. Along with creating bad policy, FWS's misuse and misrepresentation of data is an egregious violation of the federal Information Quality Act. (Click here for more background on this blatant violation of the law)

* FWS's claim that less than 2% of ivory sales will be impacted by this ban is nonsense.  (Here you should describe how the ban would impact your business or collection individually, where applicable.)  Conclude by stating that this ban falls almost entirely on small businesses, so the FWS certification in the proposed rule that it would not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act is false.  As is their finding under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act that there is not a disproportionate impact for small or large businesses.

* The exceptions in the Proposed Rule are useless and do not adequately allow legal and legitimate commerce as directed in Executive Order 13648 on Combating Wildlife Trafficking in July 2013.  To qualify for any exception, a person would need to provide documentation about import, sales and transfers that was not required in the past, so it was never created.  FWS undermines all of the exceptions, which are irrational, vague and arbitrary in any case, by placing an unachievable burden on legal ivory owners.  The agency also fails to describe specific documentation burdens with specificity, so even if an owner or business has some documentation about an ivory item, he or she cannot be certain whether documentation is adequate. These failures are serious violations of the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

* Add any additional personal objections to this irrational and abusive rule that is unfair, un-American and will not save a single elephant in Africa. Please be polite in your comments so they will be taken seriously. 

Conclude by demanding that FWS must either withdraw the proposed rule entirely for its failure to follow the law or, alternatively, at a minimum publish an extensive revision correcting its many errors for a full new notice and comment period. Nothing less is acceptable.

The above are suggestions that you can adopt or add to as you see fit.

FWS does not accept comments by e-mail or fax.  You need to submit comments online by 11:59 PM, September 28 at:  Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Proposed Rule: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Rule; Revision or!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091-0001

You can also view comments already submitted at this website. (Alternatively, if that link doesn't work, then go to Once at the website, search: FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091) 

Click on the "Comment Now" button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Follow the instructions on screen for submitting comments. When submitting comments, you can either identify yourself or type "Anonymous" in the required name fields.  You can type your comments directly into the provided text box, copy and paste into the text box or upload a file (below the text box).

If you must submit comments by mail, they must be postmarked by 11:59 PM, September 28. Mail them to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091
Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: BPHC
Falls Church, VA  22041 


  1. I can hand deliver mine... They are right down the road. And agree, this is beyond stupid! To make something illegal retroactively is just nuts...

  2. I can hand deliver mine... They are right down the road. And agree, this is beyond stupid! To make something illegal retroactively is just nuts...

  3. I don't see how banning the sale of my piano with ivory keys made in 1940 or my shotgun with ivory sight beads made in the 1920's has anything to do with poaching and smuggling today.

  4. I know that my response to your comment/question is approximately 3 months after you had posted it, but I still wanted to respond to you nevertheless. That said, while I do understand where you are coming from, (insofar as a ban placed on selling or shipping once 'legally' obtained Ivory of the past) I'm also reminded of an old adage that can apply here as well. "Give someone an inch and they will take a mile." And that's exactly what greed driven poachers and antique scammers would do. They will take newly acquired Ivory,make it appear exactly like antique Ivory, and sell it. The Elephants would start dropping off once again. (Understand?)