Hello! Welcome to Overview of Current Laws that Affect Elephants Part III of III: State Laws.
I really can’t with state and local law but here we go.
First, Animal Legal Defense Fund puts out a report ranking states in terms of their animal protection laws. Understandably, these laws are geared more toward small animal (pet) welfare. It is pretty insightful – a lot of the laws you probably wouldn’t even think about. Some states provide mental health evaluations for animal abusers. That’s pretty cool!
The top five states were
- Rhode Island
The bottom five states were
- North Dakota
Every state has some animal protection law. States regulate abuse of pets, sometimes abuse of farm animals, and exotic pets. This is because exotic pets (think: crazy birds, tigers, and monkeys) are dangerous, and often people that buy these animals don’t know what the heck they are doing. Also, a lot of states have wildlife native to the state, so they have to regulate that, too. Elephants don’t fall into any one of these categories – no one wants a pet elephant, no one farms elephants, and elephants aren’t native to any part of the US. They are only here as part of a zoo, sanctuary, circus, or in ivory form.
It’s rare to come across specific protections for elephants. Some states have taken the step to ban the ivory trade within the state, making exceptions for super old items, items with very little ivory in them, musical instruments with little ivory, and inherited items. Anyway, here are some laws I’ve come across that pertain to elephants.
- You can’t game-hunt an elephant in Alabama, so don’t even try.
- You need a separate permit to exhibit an elephant, which in turn requires three things: (1) intent to exhibit the elephant commercially; (2) facilities to maintain elephant under “positive control” and “humane conditions;” and (3) insurance. I don’t think this is a big issue in Alaska. They are more worried about mammoth ivory, which experts say is very distinguishable from elephant ivory. #SavetheWoollyMammoth
California: Super Yay
- First, California is pretty progressive when it comes to animal welfare. Well, activism in general (hippies!).
- California banned ivory sales in 2015. This action closed the loopholes in an ivory ban that was already in place in the state.
- Second, it makes abusing an elephant its own misdemeanor. That’s pretty specific.
- Banned the use of bullhooks and other “training” devices on elephants.
- Florida has a specific statute for elephant ownership and care. Pro: it prohibits keeping an elephant as a pet. That’s good? Con: It allows for elephant rides, mobile elephant exhibits, and other sad things. Furthermore, any elephant taking part in this nonsense has to be “tethered,” i.e. chained, or enclosed by an electric fence when not being exploited.
- Plus, the caging requirements made a stupid exception to the required “daily untethered movement,” saying the elephant can be tethered at all times for “security or breeding purposes.” That’s a really broad exception. Only after 14 straight days does the captor have to get a veterinarian’s note. Ridiculous. I can’t talk about Florida anymore.
- Bans the sale of ivory
- Indiana mentions elephants in their Wildlife Protection Act, but I can’t really tell what’s going on. Elephants are mentioned only in the trophy hunting sections, but not as the subject of the hunting.
- I also don’t know about this ranch – what is going on in Indiana?
- I honestly don’t understand. Someone help.
- petition to build a wall around indiana
New Jersey: Yay
- Bans the sell of ivory
New York: Yay!
- New York has already banned ivory, and recently banned the use of elephants in “entertainment,” i.e. circuses and carnivals. Way to go NY, I loved you anyway.
- Specifically allows for circuses and elephant back rides at the circuses as an exception to its “dangerous animal ban,” which would usually include elephants. Mmm.
- Bans the sale of ivory with a few exceptions.
Rhode Island: Yay?
- Banned the use of the bullhook and other weapons against elephants, including baseball bats. BASEBALL BATS. On an animal. Is everyone crazy?
Tennessee: Let’s do more, TN!
- Trained elephants can have contact with the public, and can be “tethered,” while other Class I species cannot. I don’t know. Maybe this is for the benefit of the Elephant Sanctuary in TN.
- Please don’t tether the elephants, everyone. Leave them alone.
- In Texas, if your elephant wanders off your property, your neighbors and/or the local police have to try to locate you. What in tarnation –
- But this Dallas-based company exists that lets the public rent elephants for events in Texas. They also offer dwarf actors and “living tables,” and we’ll see if they respond to my email asking for information on how the elephants are taken care of. This doesn’t have anything to do with Texas law…… YET.
- An ivory ban didn’t quite make it, despite the awesome efforts of Ivory Free Vermont. In this interview, a representative of Ivory Free Vermont references Lawrence Anthony’s herd mourning his death.
- Critics said the ban would only be a “drop in the bucket” in the ivory market since the real demand comes from China. Drops are how buckets get filled up! That’s how water works, people… I officially can’t with Vermont.
- Total ivory ban, unless the ivory is proven to be at least 100 years old, or the item is less than 15% ivory. The “Save Animals Facing Extinction” Act also protects other species. This initiative got a LOT of support.
That’s all I have for state law. Moving forward, I’ll be writing more about elephant traits, symbolism, and the philosophy behind conserving the species… with a little law sprinkled in, of course. Stay tuned and thank you for your support!