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Wildlife poaching is a massive issue that’s contributing to the rapid decline of many species of animals, including many that have already been pushed to the brink of extinction or critical endangerment. One thing that’s fueling the trade is a demand for ivory, and a new report reveals the U.S. state of Maryland could be increasing that demand.

The Humane Society sent trained undercover investigators into 20 different shops throughout Maryland and found several pieces of ivory, or suspected ivory, being sold.

According to the report, most of the ivory items didn’t have proper identification tags to make it known the item was ivory, and when asked about it, multiple salespeople said they weren’t supposed to say the item was ivory.

Additionally, most of the salespeople claimed to know little to nothing about laws regulating the sale of ivory or about the ivory items in their shops. While antique ivory that’s over 100-years-old can be legally sold in the US, federal law prohibits the sale of new ivory from freshly poached animals. It’s up to the salespeople to provide documentation proving that an ivory item is antique, which none of the investigated shops could do.

In fact, investigators found several ivory items for sale in shops that had signs of being newer based on their color and style. Customers who purchase the items could be unknowingly supporting the illegal poaching industry, ivory trade, and contributing to the deaths of endangered species.

Under federal law, there are restrictions for the import, export and interstate trade of ivory from endangered and threatened species. However, interstate sales are regulated on a state-by-state basis, leaving a lot of room for illegally imported ivory to be sold under the guise of legal ivory.

Because of the highlighted issues, Maryland has proposed a bill to address intrastate trade. In an email shared with One Green Planet, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Senator Will Smith, said: “The sale of illegally poached ivory right here in Maryland helps fund illegal activity across the globe, fueling terrorism and driving global insecurity. Cutting off access to our markets is a simple step Maryland can take to make all of us safer.”

Sign this petition to demand a total ban on the ivory trade.

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