Critical California Bill That Will Restrict Exotic Wildlife Trade & Protect Endangered Species Passes First Committee Hearing With A Vote of 5-1

Yesterday, California Senator Henry Stern’s (D-Los Angeles) Senate Bill 1175 cleared its first hurdle on its way to the Governor’s desk, passing out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. The bill will cut off imports and sale of any wildlife that could spread zoonotic disease, as well as ban the possession of several trophy-hunted species from Africa. Stern is working with cosponsors of the bill, political advocacy group, Social Compassion in Legislation, and Center for Biological Diversity, in addition to partnering with global NGOs PETA, and WildAid.

“We need to stop the brutal trade of exotic and endangered wildlife once and for all,” Stern, who is also Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, said in a statement to WAN. “Whether it’s a pangolin being sold for faulty medicine, a white Bengal tiger being enslaved for entertainment, or a black rhino ‘trophy’ used to satisfy some misguided hunter‘s ego, California must put an end to the wildlife trade.”

SB 1175 would ban imports and sales of live wild animals that pose zoonotic disease transmission risk, as well as the possession of “trophy hunted” species such as lions, elephants, and rhinos, among others. It is thought that COVID-19 made the jump from wildlife to humans at a live animal market in Wuhan, China.

“With the outbreak of COVID-19 bringing the world’s attention to the effects of live wildlife markets on both the animals suffering in them and the profound human health consequences of disease transmission, it is no wonder that a recent Zogby poll showed 75% of Californians support a ban on these markets,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation. “These poll figures align with the urgent calls from conservation, animal rights, and public health officials to ban these kinds of markets, and the wildlife trade in general.”

Existing California law defines “live animal markets” as a retail food market where, in the regular course of business, frogs, turtles, and non-poultry birds are stored alive and sold to consumers for the purpose of human consumption. An estimated two million bullfrogs and 300,000 turtles are either removed from their fragile natural habitats, or bred in captivity, then imported into California annually to be sold at live animal markets.

“The international wildlife trade not only poses a disease risk to people, but is a threat to biodiversity,” said Brendan Cummings, conservation director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Whether it’s dead animals brought in as trophies or curios, or live animals imported as pets or food, our unsustainable appetite for wildlife is one of the main drivers of the extinction crisis. California has long been a trendsetter in environmental protection and with this legislation, the state is poised to once again lead the way on curtailing the dangerous and environmentally destructive wildlife trade.”

“We need live wildlife markets like a swimmer needs a crocodile—for as long as we keep them open, we put ourselves in mortal danger,” stated PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA applauds Senator Stern for introducing this common sense legislation to curtail these dangerous disease incubators.”

SB 1175 demonstrates Senator Stern’s leadership for protecting wildlife and public health, joining China and other countries in taking strong action to shut down wild animal markets and the wildlife trade,” said Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid.

“I have lobbied governments in Hong Kong and Vietnam to shut down their wildlife markets and I am thrilled to see progress on the ground across Asia to reduce wildlife trade and consumption,” said Maggie Q, who also serves on the Board of Social Compassion In Legislation. “But, we also have a lot of work to do right here at home to protect our wildlife and ecosystems and SB 1175 is a big step towards that goal.”

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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