Victory for Cecil the Lion! New Jersey Bans “Trophies” From 9 Endangered Species

9 endangered species nj map on top_revTRENTON – May 26, 2016 – Today, New Jersey has contributed to the protection of endangered species by implementing a law to regulate in-state activities involving trophies derived from big game kills in Africa and Asia.

In a historic win for endangered species, the New Jersey Assembly voted in favor of Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto requirements of two measures, S-977 and S-978, at 1 p.m. on  Thursday.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergenfield), sailed through the State House twice since the death of Cecil the Lion caused an international uproar last July. Fourty-five airlines have banned the transportation of endangered species since Cecil’s death.

Under the new ban, it will become illegal in the Garden State to import or sell “trophies” from any species or subspecies of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, or ray listed in Appendix I or Appendix II of CITES (an international treaty governing trade in endangered, threatened, and vulnerable species worldwide).

“Those violating the law will be subject to severe criminal and civil penalties,” said Sen. Lesniak. “New Jersey is a major hub for the importation and transportation of body parts of endangered species. Our ban will send a strong message to those who would endanger the very existence of these majestic animals to avoid bringing their so-called ‘trophies’ into New Jersey. Hopefully, they will give up the practice entirely.”

On May 2, the governor signed a conditional veto that required the animals being protected were listed in Appendix I or Appendix II of CITES. One result of the conditional veto removed the cape buffalo, considered prey by Big Game hunters as a Big Five “prize.” He also exempted the possession of endangered species “trophies” already in the state.

“If these bills are returned to me as I propose, however, we can be confident that the body parts of endangered animals will no longer be welcome in New Jersey,” Governor Christie said.

“This week, conservationists from around the country are traveling to Trenton to support New Jersey in this global war to save endangered species from extinction,” said Jen Samuel, president of Elephants DC.  “Both elephants and rhinos are being killed faster than they are giving birth. We are grateful to Governor Christie for endorsing ‘reasonable measures that help protect threatened species.’ We applaud the leadership of Sen. Lesniak and Assemblyman Eustace for championing historic change. New Jersey’s stance against cruel acts of extinction is incredible, fearless and powerful.”

After New Jersey enacted the first comprehensive ivory and rhino horn sales ban in 2014, New York, California and Washington followed suit with similar measures.

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(photo by Phil McAuliffe)

On Thursday, National Geographic Exploring Artist Asher Jay, world-renowned biologist and ecologist Professor Andrew Dobson of Princeton University, representatives from Elephants DC and The Humane Society of the United States are expected to attend a press conference at the State House.

According to Samuel, “New Jersey is continuing its legacy of defending endangered species from extinction. These majestic animals are not ‘trophies’ — they are vulnerable animals in need of our safeguarding and stewardship. Elephants DC is so proud of New Jersey for being the leader endangered species so desperately need.”

“Trophy hunting of exotic and endangered species is a cruel and inhumane practice that not only threatens the extinction of wild animals throughout the world but selfishly affects other species in the ecosystem,” said Sen. Lesniak. “It is an elite hobby and New Jersey is a large market for endangered species parts. Killing these animals so that they can be stuffed and mounted is not a practice that should be condoned or allowed.”

The senator continued, “We need to respect and value our planet’s wildlife and promote conservation efforts. This is a moral imperative as well as an environmental priority.”

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Elephants DC is dedicated to ending the ivory trade worldwide and advancing elephant well-being. For more, visit: www.elephantsdc.org.

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