11 October 2015

Making the Merchants of Extinction Pay

Let's put it to a vote: Who's in favor of extinction? Nobody? That's great, and the even better news is that Washingtonians get to vote on that for real this fall.

In Washington state, this November's ballot features Initiative 1401, which takes on the illegal wildlife trade that's currently driving species toward extinction. The initiative is important and deserves a yes vote.

I-1401 seeks to make the penalties for trafficking in animal parts so costly that poachers and smugglers will not want to risk being caught. It prohibits the sale, purchase, and distribution of products made from elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, pangolins, sharks, and rays. The penalties would include up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. For more information, click here.

Because Washington has important shipping ports, the initiative can go a long way in combating the transportation of illegal wildlife products in the United States and the world. It's a smart move by the initiative backers to focus on Washington, and it's great that my home state can play such an important role in addressing extinction rates.

I hope Washingtonians will help stop extinction by voting for I-1401, and I hope that other states will pass similar laws soon.