Mass. lawmakers weigh crackdown on ivory trade

Despite the global embargo on elephant ivory that has been in place since 1990, the rate of elephant slaughter for tusks is at the highest point in a decade. In this picture, three female African bush elephants travel as a small herd in Tanzania. Photo by Ikiwaner, taken July 29, 2010, licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

Despite the global embargo on elephant ivory that has been in place since 1990, the rate of elephant slaughter for tusks is at its highest point in a decade. In this picture, three female African bush elephants travel as a small herd in Tanzania. Photo by Ikiwaner, licensed under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

BOSTON (AP) – The state Senate is taking up a bill that would largely prohibit the sale or possession of elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn in Massachusetts.

The measure approved earlier this year by the Legislature’s Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee is intended to crack down on trafficking of ivory and rhino horn items, with limited exemptions like ivory attached to a musical instrument or an antique.

Debate on the bill is expected on Wednesday.

Wildlife activists who have been pushing for passage say poaching has decimated the African elephant and black rhino populations, leaving the species in danger of extinction.

The bill sets fines of up to $4,000 and six months in jail for a first offense, increasing to a maximum 2 1/2 years behind bars for a third offense.

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