Washington ballot measure would create nation’s toughest rules on wildlife trafficking

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ADDO, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 09: Elephants are pictured in Addo National Park on February 9, 2013 in Addo, South Africa. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Importing items like elephant ivory or rhino horns into the United States for commercial purposes has been prohibited for decades under federal law and international treaties. In Washington, voters will weigh in on a ballot measure that would add state penalties to violators and expand the animals prohibited.

Initiative 1401 would ban the purchase, sale and distribution of parts or products made from 10 endangered animals: lions, elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays. Offenders could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The measure on November’s ballot, backed by billionaire Paul Allen and supported by the Humane Society of the United States, is the first statewide vote on wildlife trafficking, though states like California, New York and New Jersey have enacted less sweeping legislation.

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