Signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last October, a new law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California is effective as of July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited.
Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:
• Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than 5 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
• Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
• Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.
California has a long history in the legal and illegal trafficking market of ivory within the United States. Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977.
The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.