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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.

Oregon Bill Would Ban Ivory Sales

Paul Mannix
A bill in the Oregon legislature would ban the sale of ivory in the state.

Federal law generally prohibits the import of ivory, but it's legal to sell domestically if the ivory was harvested before 1976.

Now some Oregon lawmakers want to ban the sale of ivory in the state. Supporters of the measure say it can be hard to tell the difference between antique ivory and newer ivory from poached elephants.

David Shepherdson of the Oregon Zoo said the proposal will be a small step in a global struggle.

"We believe that bringing an end to the sale of ivory will help bring an end to the illegal killing of elephants,” he said. “Humans can survive without ivory. Elephants can't."

A similar proposal failed in Olympia this year. Opponents included everyone from the National Rifle Association to the Seattle Symphony. Those groups testified that criminalizing the sale of ivory products would reduce the value of antique weapons and musical instruments.

The Oregon bill would allow ivory to be part of an inheritance or to be sold to museums and universities for educational purposes.