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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Backers Submit Signatures For Oregon Wildlife Trafficking Initiative

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
Supporters of Initiative Petition 68 gather outside the Oregon Secretary of State's office in Salem prior to submitting signatures.

Oregon voters may get the chance to ban the sale of items made from certain wildlife species this November. Backers of an initiative that would do just that submitted signatures Thursday in an attempt to get their measure on the November ballot.

But how much impact could a ban on sales in Oregon have on the global ivory trade? Former Republican state Sen. Bruce Starr said it's a start.

"I mean when you look at the whole world, and Oregon's just one kind of speck on the planet. But the reality is that we can do our part,” Starr said. “And Oregonians, I think, will want to do their part."

And in fact it would be more than a start, since Washington voters approved a similar measure last year and California lawmakers approved a ban with a vote in the legislature. The initiative would fine people caught selling any part of a dozen types of animals. There would be exceptions for certain antiques, such as firearms and musical instruments.

The measure is opposed by the National Rifle Association, which says it would punish honest people by making their lawful property worthless.

The Oregon measure is being bankrolled in part by the Humane Society of the United States. The effort is also being supported financially by Seattle-area billionaire Paul Allen, who poured money into last year's Initiative 1401 in Washington. That measure passed overwhelmingly with 70 percent in support.

The Oregon legislature considered, but ultimately rejected, a bill last year that have had a similar effect as Initiative Petition 68, but the measure was sidetracked by opposition from gun and knife collectors.