Fresh off of a setback in the Washington State fight, where ill-informed voters passed an ill-advised and ineffectual trashing of 4th Amendment property rights, Knife Rights managed to win a small victory in the Garden State. They managed to take a horrific monstrosity of a bill and get it amended in committee to morph it into simply a bad bill.
In the end, the amended bill eliminated the ban on possession of ivory and ivory products (as well as rhino horn and rhino horn products). The previously existing New Jersey ban on sale and trade in ivory still applies, but the amended bill no longer makes things even worse. It also pared down the banned species from the original list of over 11,000 to “only” ten (certain species of elephant, rhino, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle and ray, plus the Cape Buffalo).
Additionally, the bill’s criminal penalties for failing to procure a “certificate of ownership” for covered wildlife (3-5 years in prison and a $5-50K fine, plus likely confiscation) were replaced with a civil penalty of up to $25 each day a person possesses wildlife without a certificate, collected through a civil, not criminal, action.
Even with the certificate, sale and trade would be illegal, and without the certificate, possession would be illegal. At $25/day that can still amount to a horrendous amount of money for failing to register your items. No matter what the state does, many still won’t ever realize that they have to register their possessions and will be subject to potentially ruinous state action against them.
As noted, the amended bill unfortunately still retains a useless, outrageous and problematic registration and taxing scheme and still allows only 180 days’ grace period to obtain the “certificate of ownership,” without any actual notice to the public. Any heirs still need to register or be susceptible to the same penalties. It still “takes” all value from these items, making them essentially worthless in New Jersey, since they can no longer be traded or sold.
And, there’s still no evidence that any of the bill’s remaining provisions will advance conservation of the named species in any way, and in fact there is evidence to the contrary. Moreover, the radical animal rights organizations who promoted this bill’s introduction still retained many of their most desired provisions, that ironically will actually damage conservation of those species in their native regions.
I am in the camp that says the solution to saving elephants is to farm them. Treat something as a valuable commodity and those with a stake in the game will protect them. It worked for rhinos in South Africa.