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Wednesday, March 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

I-1401: nice sentiment but bad law

Thai officials arrange seized elephant tusks to be displayed before destruction in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Thai authorities destroyed more than 2 tons of seized and smuggled ivory on Wednesday, the latest move by the government to avoid possible economic sanctions over its perceived failure to tackle the illicit trade. (Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press)
Thai officials arrange seized elephant tusks to be displayed before destruction in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Thai authorities destroyed more than 2 tons of seized and smuggled ivory on Wednesday, the latest move by the government to avoid possible economic sanctions over its perceived failure to tackle the illicit trade. (Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press)

WILDLIFE -- Everyone who appreciates wildlife can appreciate attempts to protect endangered species from poaching, even if the victims are critters halfway around the world from where we live.

But that doesn't mean we have to vote for a law that will do nothing more than be a costly pain in the butt for honest citizens and law enforcement officials alike.

Washington's Initiative 1401 would saddle the state's already understaffed and overburdened Fish and Wildlife police with new responsibilities in monitoring the public as well as state ports, shops and restaurants for ivory and other animal parts killed in other parts of the world.

The United States already has such laws, but I-1401 would take them to extremes, for instance -- making grandma's a criminal for selling ivory jewelry she got 50 years ago.

There are definite currents of anti-hunting sentiment in this campaign, which further distracts from the real problem: commercialized poaching.

Microsoft co-owner Paul Allen and other deep-pocket supporters have ponied up millions of dollars to force this bad law on the public and law enforcement. The money would be better spent in the countries where the poaching is underway.

I-1401 backers are spreading the myth that we have the means to enforce technically unfair and tedious legal requirements.

We don't have the enforcement. Our Fish and Wildlife officers already are spread too thin.

I-1401 is another law that threatens law abiding people with "ivory tower" hopes of applying justice to the real international poaching culprits.

 




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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