Tag Archives: Oregon

Dogs raised for meat rescued, find Oregon homes

Megan Watkins never wanted a dog until she met Florence, a Tosa mastiff rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Watkins, who manages a Starbucks in Bend, Oregon, hosted a grand opening block party in August. She remembers stepping outside the coffee shop and happening to see Florence being walked by Humane Society of Central Oregon Outreach Manager Lynne Ouchida.

Watkins, an owner of two cats, knew she found her dog.

“I felt instantly connected to her,” she said. “She just had this really tough, sweet, calm energy.”

Watkins offered the dog a puppuccino, a small cup filled with whipped cream that Starbucks employees give to customers’ dogs.

“We say it was a match made over a puppuccino,” Ouchida said.

Rescued dogs

Florence is one of 28 dogs brought to central Oregon in March from a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea. All but three of the dogs have since been adopted, and two had to be euthanized, reported The Bulletin.

Humane Society International, a global animal protection organization, goes to dog meat farms and trades services and goods for the dogs. The group teaches farmers how to grow crops or offers rice and berries in exchange for the dogs.

A total of 250 dogs were rescued from the South Korean farm and sent to Humane Societies around the United States.

The Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend took 17 dogs, and BrightSide Animal Shelter in Redmond took 11 dogs. The breeds vary with mixes including Labradors, mastiffs, Jindos and elkhounds.

Each dog had major medical and behavioral issues. The dogs had infections, orthopedic issues and broken teeth from being confined in small cages. Many were fearful at the Humane Society shelters and would hide in their kennels.

“These dogs were not raised with human contact. They were not raised in a social environment,” Ouchida said. “They were raised in wire cages. Their interactions with humans were extremely limited.”

Florence had two deformed legs from growing up in a small cage. She had surgery in September, paid for by Humane Society International. She is now recovering with her foster owner, Watkins, who will be able to formally adopt her from the Humane Society after she recovers.

“We came into her life through the worst of it,” Watkins said.

Two dogs from the farm remain at the Bend shelter; Owen, a 1-year-old Jindo, and Addi, a 2-year-old Tosa-Lab mix. Staffers continue to socialize and train the two dogs before they will be put up for adoption.

Jesse, a 1-year-old Jindo mix, is in foster care with the Redmond shelter.

Overall, 23 of the dogs have been adopted.

“This has been extremely successful for the dogs,” said Karen Burns, Humane Society of Central Oregon manager. “Yes, we have had some heartbreak along the way, but I would like to focus on all the positive we have done. These are success stories. These are dogs that are part of someone’s life and family now because of what we did.”

Changing the culture

Bend resident Debby Bever grew up in Taiwan, where it is common to see dog meat at the markets. She never got used to the sight.

“There were dogs at the market all the time,” Bever said. “There would be chicken, fish and then you would see a dog carcass.”

Consuming dog meat is a cultural tradition, Bever said, where some Asian people believe it will keep them cool in the summertime. The tradition is still popular among older generations, she said, but younger people are slowly changing the culture.

With the experience of seeing dog meat firsthand, Bever felt compelled to help the dogs that came to town in March.

She offered to be a foster owner for a Tosa mastiff puppy named Lana. After less than a month, Bever adopted the young dog.

Bever, who owns two mastiffs, said it has been fascinating to see how Lana interacts with her two large dogs. Lana almost immediately bonded with them, while remaining distant to any human contact. Over time, she has warmed up to Bever.

“They just attach to other dogs and don’t want to be by themselves,” Bever said. “All they knew were dogs and mean people.”

‘Part of the family’

At her home in Redmond, Watkins had a ramp, doggy door and outdoor enclosure built for Florence.

“She is part of the family now, and we set up the whole house for her,” Watkins said.

After meeting Florence at the block party, Watkins visited her at the Bend shelter for two weeks before bringing her home. During those two weeks, Watkins convinced her husband, Jason Watkins, they needed the dog.

He agreed, and Florence has fit into their family ever since.

“I just feel very lucky to have her in our lives,” Watkins said.

On the Web

Humane Society International.

Pot-legalization movement seeks first foothold in Northeast

Having proven they can win in the West, advocates for recreational marijuana hope the Nov. 8 election brings their first significant electoral victories in the densely populated Northeast, where voters in Massachusetts and Maine will consider making pot legal for all adults.

Supporters believe “yes” votes in New England would add geographical diversity to the legalization map, encourage other East Coast states to move in the same direction and perhaps build momentum toward ending federal prohibitions on the drug.

“We have to get to a point where we can win legalization voter initiatives in other parts of the country,” said Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, a leading group in the legalization movement.

Three other states — California, Arizona and Nevada — are also voting on recreational pot. If the California initiative passes, marijuana will be legal along the entire West Coast. Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have already voted to permit it. The District of Columbia also passed a legalization measure in 2014, but it has no regulatory framework for retail sales and possession remains illegal on federal property.

Several Eastern states are among the 25 that already allow some form of medicinal marijuana, but none in the region has approved recreational pot.

Big money is at stake, which helps explain why marijuana supporters have raised more than $6 million in Massachusetts and about $1.3 million in Maine, most from outside those states.

Analysts from Cowen and Co. issued a report last month forecasting a $50 billion legal cannabis market in the U.S. by 2026, a nearly tenfold increase over today. But such growth would be predicated on federal legalization. Passage of the November state referendums would be a “key catalyst” toward that end, analysts wrote.

Higher marijuana usage in the West may help explain why the region has been a more fertile ground for legalization, said Matt Simon, New England director for the Marijuana Policy Project, another major pro-legalization group.

“More people have direct experience with marijuana or know someone who has, and that leads to it being demystified,” Simon said.

Recent polls on the New England ballot questions, which propose significantly lower tax rates than those in Colorado and Washington, indicate the “yes” sides trending ahead in both states. Still, passage is far from guaranteed.

In Massachusetts, a socially liberal state, voters previously decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and approved it for medicinal use. This year’s initiative has met formidable opposition from politicians, business leaders, clergy and even billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who recently donated $1 million to opposing groups.

The state’s popular Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston’s Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh are among many elected officials fighting the idea. Their arguments include concerns that edible pot products resembling candy or other treats could fall into the hands of children, and that marijuana can be a “gateway” to far more dangerous drugs.

“The availability of marijuana for adolescent users already constitutes an environmental factor for the later use of other illicit drugs,” the state’s four Roman Catholic bishops said in a recent statement. “Its legalization will only serve to worsen this problem.”

A TV ad urging a “no” vote imagines a neighborhood overrun by pot shops and a mother shocked to see her own son emerge from one of the stores. Legalization proponents dismissed the ad as a “smear-and-fear” tactic.

“There is a puritanical streak that runs through New Englanders,” said NORML’s Stroup, a onetime Boston resident.

The Puritans lost their influence centuries ago, and the phrase “banned in Boston” is an anachronism. Yet uneasiness persists when it comes to issues that would have once been considered sinful. Massachusetts, for example, only recently authorized casino gambling and did so in a limited and highly regulated form.

In Maine, critics worry about disrupting the state’s well-established medical marijuana program.

“We want to make sure patients don’t lose access and that small growers will still be able to flourish,” said Catherine Lewis, director of education for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine.

Portland, the state’s largest city, legalized possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in 2013, but the statewide prohibition still makes buying and selling the drug illegal.

Marijuana companies that have focused largely on Western states are watching developments closely, sensing new regional opportunities for investment and growth.

“The Northeast specifically is going to be a very powerful market because of the population density,” said Derek Peterson, chief executive of Terra Tech Corp., which operates cannabis cultivation, production and retail facilities.

Marc Harvill, client services and training manager for Denver-based Medicine Man Technologies, said the firm has already fielded inquires for consulting services from potential retail operators in New England should the ballot questions pass.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said.

Anti-government militants acquitted on conspiracy charges

A federal court jury delivered a surprise verdict on Oct. 27, acquitting anti-government militant leader Ammon Bundy and six followers of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in the armed takeover of a wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year.

The outcome marked a stinging defeat for federal prosecutors and law enforcement in a trial the defendants sought to turn into a pulpit for airing their opposition to government control over millions of acres of public lands in the West.

Bundy and others, including his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, cast the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a patriotic act of civil disobedience. Prosecutors called it a lawless scheme to seize federal property by force.

Jubilant supporters of the Bundys thronged the courthouse after the verdict, hailing the trial’s outcome as vindication of a political ideology that is profoundly distrustful of federal authority and challenges its legitimacy.

“We’re so grateful to the jurors who weren’t swayed by the nonsense that was going on,” defendant Shawna Cox told reporters. “God said we weren’t guilty. We weren’t guilty of anything.”

As the seven-week-long trial in the U.S. District Court in Portland climaxed, U.S. marshals wrestled to the floor Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus Mumford, as he argued heatedly with the judge over the terms of his client’s continued detention.

The Bundys still face assault, conspiracy and other charges from a separate armed standoff in 2014 at the Nevada ranch of their father, Cliven Bundy, triggered when federal agents seized his cattle for his failure to pay grazing fees for his use of public land.

The outcome of the Oregon trial clearly shocked many in the packed courtroom. Attorneys exchanged looks of astonishment with the defendants, then hugged their clients as the not-guilty verdicts were read amid gasps from spectators.

Outside the courthouse, supporters celebrated by shouting “Hallelujah” and reading passages from the U.S. Constitution. One man rode his horse, named Lady Liberty, in front of the courthouse carrying an American flag.

The verdict came after four days of deliberations. One juror, a former federal employee, was dismissed over questions of bias on Wednesday and replaced by a substitute.

The 12-member panel found all seven defendants — six men and a woman — not guilty of the most serious charge, conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force. That charge alone carried a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

The defendants also were acquitted of illegal possession of firearms in a federal facility and theft of government property, except in the case of Ryan Bundy, for whom jurors were deadlocked on the charge of theft.

The takeover of the wildlife refuge was initially sparked by outrage over the plight of two imprisoned Oregon ranchers the occupiers believed had been unfairly treated in an arson case. But the militants said they were also protesting larger grievances at what they saw as government tyranny.

The standoff led to the shooting death of one protester, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, by police shortly after the Bundy brothers were arrested, and left parts of the refuge badly damaged.

More than two dozen people, in all, have been criminally charged in the occupation, and a second group of defendants is due to stand trial in February.

 

Landmark anti-coal bill becomes law in Oregon

Oregon is the first state to eradicate coal from its power supply through legislation and now boasts some of the most stringent demands for renewable energy among its state peers.

The new law will wipe out coal-generated energy in phases through 2030 and requires utilities to provide half of customers’ power with renewable sources by 2040, doubling the state’s previous standard.

“Oregon is known to be a leader in clean-energy programs, investing in energy efficiency and recognizing the risk of climate change,” said Gov. Kate Brown, who signed the measure surrounded by students at a Portland elementary school that’s powered by solar panels.

oregon gov. kate brown
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. — PHOTO: Courtesy

Environmental experts and advocates say the law’s coal phase-out component is precedent-setting for lawmakers considering similar moves in their own states, although Hawaii and Vermont have long-standing histories of running coal-free.

The renewables portion thrusts Oregon to the top ranks of a handful of other states that have renewable mandates of 50 percent or more. Hawaii, for instance, has a 100-percent requirement by 2045 while Massachusetts has 1-percent annual increase indefinitely, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 

Coal, climate and politics

Coal and renewables are among the key talking points that drive the national debate over climate change, which is a top agenda item for Democrats and the party’s presidential campaigns this year. Oregon’s new law also aligns with some of President Obama’s statements on the topic over the years.

“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels,” Obama said during his final State of the Union address in January.

But Democrats’ efforts for tighter regulations on the energy industry are at odds with Republicans who are trying to block Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court.

Even for progressive Oregon, the new anti-coal law — a negotiated deal between the state’s utilities and environmentalists — wasn’t an easy pass.

Oregon GOP lawmakers, the minority party in both statehouse chambers, went to great lengths to stop the measure with tactics that slowed down the entire legislative process. The GOP raised concerns about cost increases to consumers’ energy bills and questioned whether the environmental benefits were overstated.

“Today, Gov. Brown gave her stamp of approval to a new renewable energy mandate that will cost residential electricity customers in Oregon $190 more each year until 2040,” Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli, among the law’s most outspoken opponents, said Friday.

He argued the law “lines the pockets of the green energy industry at the expense of working Oregonians who get nothing in return.”

Oregon approves nation’s highest minimum wage increase

Oregon lawmakers have approved landmark legislation that propels the state’s minimum wage for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S., and does so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.

On Feb. 18,  the state House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1532, which now heads to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said in a statement she will sign it into law.

“I started this conversation last fall, bringing stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need, and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures,” Brown said.

The move makes Oregon a trailblazer in the broader debate about minimum wage unfolding nationwide as the federal threshold remains unchanged from Great Recession levels.

Oregon now joins 14 other states that have raised their rates over the past two years. Another dozen or so are considering taking up the issue this year, either through legislative action or ballot initiative, as issues of wage inequality and middle-class incomes have climbed to the forefront of presidential campaigns by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.

Wisconsin’s Republican leadership does not believe in minimum wage laws.

The bill was crafted as a compromise for what unions, businesses and farmers want and as an attempt to thwart more aggressive proposals that could go before voters in November. Those two proposals call for a statewide minimum of $13.50 or $15, and would be phased in over half the time. Labor unions have not yet indicated whether they’ll follow through with ballot initiatives.

Oregon follows moves in states such as Massachusetts, California and Vermont that recently boosted statewide minimums above $10. That stands in stark contrast to more conservative states such as Idaho, which has blocked previous efforts to raise its minimum beyond the federal level, and Arizona, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would block state funding to municipalities that set a local minimum wage.

Oregon’s new plan imposes a series of gradual increases over six years. By 2022, the state’s current $9.25 an hour minimum – already one of the highest in the nation – would climb to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities.

Those minimums dethrone Massachusetts — where the statewide rate will climb to $11 an hour next year — from the top spot, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that tracks wage laws across the nation.

While there are varying approaches to raising the minimum wage, the three-tiered regional system is uniquely Oregon’s.

Some states have targeted wage hikes for only government employees or certain industries, as seen recently in New York for fast-food workers, while others allow local jurisdictions to set their own rates above the state threshold, prompting recent hikes in cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles.

Oregon, however, has made the unprecedented move to be the first state without a one-size-fits-all statewide minimum.

“Oregon has always been at the forefront of new ideas in the country. We were the first to actually have a minimum wage,” said Rep. Paul Holvey, a Democrat from Eugene. “Trust me, we’re not solving all the problems, but we are making a substantial dent in it by pushing up from the bottom some wage equality … from the huge disparity we have in incomes.”

The state is deeply divided between west and east by economic, cultural and political differences. The goal of the tiered approach is to balance the needs of the more urban west, where living costs have soared in rapidly growing Portland-and struggling farming communities in the east.

Division over the minimum wage — currently at $7.25 in federal law — is also often split along party lines and pits low-wage workers against business groups, as has been seen in Oregon this year. Republicans, the minority party in the Oregon Statehouse, have opposed the increase.

The President of Oregon Farm Bureau said the vote shows Democrats don’t value family agriculture.

“This enormous increase will force many family farmers to try to find ways to mechanize or transition away from labor-intensive products Oregon is known for, like apples, pears, milk and berries. Unfortunately, some will give up and sell, while others will simply go out of business,” said Barry Bushue, President of Oregon Farm Bureau.

David Cooper, an economic analyst the Economic Policy Institute, said wage increases have never lead to widespread damaging effects, but he also expressed hesitation about Oregon’s regional approach.

“I think any time you create these sorts of somewhat arbitrary geographic districts, that’s when you can create opportunities for some sort of economic disruption,” he said. “I would prefer the whole state got to the same wage level but at a slower pace by region so that everyone is held to the same standard.”

Former Janesville couple among 4 remaining armed holdouts at Oregon refuge

The four armed activists still occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon have shown no signs they are ready to leave more than a week after the main figures in the standoff were arrested.

Ammon Bundy led the group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land policies and has repeatedly asked the holdouts to go home. The Associated Press has not been able to contact the remaining occupiers, but they have said in online statements and interviews that they want assurances they won’t be arrested.

Like most of the occupiers, none of the holdouts is from Oregon. Here are details about them:

SEAN AND SANDY ANDERSON

The husband and wife moved from the town of Janesville, Wisconsin, within the last several years to Riggins, Idaho, where Sean, 47, opened a store for hunting, tactical and survival gear. Sandy, 48, worked at a gas station.

Idaho County, where they live, and Harney County, 290 miles away where the refuge is located, are similar in many ways. Both have large portions of land managed by federal agencies and populations chafing at restrictions put on that land.

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said the Andersons are good residents, though he didn’t know as much about Sean as he did about Sandy.

“She’s a good person, she’s just upset with the government,” he told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Sean Anderson is facing misdemeanor charges in Wisconsin for resisting an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of THC, the intoxicating chemical in marijuana.

He also has pleaded guilty to a series of misdemeanors in recent years: domestic abuse in December 2010, disorderly conduct in 2008, criminal trespass in a dwelling in 2002, and disorderly conduct in 1999.

A friend of the couple, Lindsey Dipo, told the Lewiston Tribune newspaper that the couple recorded their will on Dipo’s cellphone before departing for Oregon.

JEFFREY BANTA

The 47-year-old has lived in Elko, Nevada, the last several years and worked in construction most of his life, his ex-wife said.

Banta graduated from Yerington High School in the rural town of Yerington, about 70 miles southeast of Reno, said Angela Ellington Banta, who still lives there.

His father, Willard Banta, 73, said all of his children grew up hunting and fishing at an early age.

“I had them out in the hills with me as soon as they were old enough to walk and out of diapers,” he said Wednesday.

The elder Banta said he had talked to his son “once or twice” since the standoff began but declined to provide details.

“He just said, ‘I’m all right,'” Willard Banta said. “I’m wondering if he is going to make it out. I’d like to see my son come home. I hope he does, but I have my doubts.”

Jeffrey Banta and his ex-wife have two children, the eldest a 23-year-old woman who is married and has a child living in the Reno area.

Ellington Banta said she doesn’t really know what her ex-husband has been doing in recent years and doesn’t want to discuss the standoff because she has “two kids who have been really affected by all this.”

DAVID FRY

The 27-year-old from Blanchester, Ohio, formed an online friendship with Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and helped the Arizona rancher self-publish a novel. Finicum became a recognizable spokesman for the armed group before he was shot and killed by police in a confrontation last month.

Fry traveled, apparently unarmed and against the advice of his father, to the refuge, where he often posted online updates. He told Oregon Public Broadcasting in mid-January that he planned to say goodbye to Finicum and return home before his father got back from a vacation.

Within two weeks, Finicum was dead, shot as authorities moved in to arrest Bundy and others on a remote stretch of road outside the refuge.

Fry has rejected Bundy’s call to leave, saying federal authorities might be forcing him to make the request.

“We’re still here,” he told an online talk show Monday that airs on YouTube channel Revolution Radio. “I never saw myself as a leader. … We’re waiting for some kind of miracle to happen.”

In Ohio, Fry has several convictions for disorderly conduct, as well as possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Number of animals, plants on Endangered Species waiting list drops to lowest level since 1970s

The number of animals and plants on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection has dropped to its lowest levels since the “candidate” list was begun in the 1970s, according to an updated list released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Triggered by a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups in 2011, the agency has made great progress in addressing the backlog of species in need of protection. The Service announced today that only 60 species — 42 animals and 18 plants — remain on the candidate waiting list for protection, according to CBD.

“The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its care, but the law only works after species make it onto the list. It’s heartening to see so many more species now getting the protection that will save them,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the center.

In 2011, the service and the center reached a landmark agreement requiring the agency to make final protection decisions on the 251 species on the candidate list as of 2010, as well as initial decisions on 506 additional species petitioned for protection under the act.

Under that agreement for 757 species, 151 species have gained final protection to date and another 71 have been proposed for protection.

Species that have already been protected under the agreement include the yellow-billed cuckoo, a beautiful bird found along streamsides in the West that had been waiting for protection since a 1998 center petition; the Oregon spotted frog, threatened by wetland loss, which had been waiting since a 1989 petition; the Ozark hellbender, an ancient salamander threatened by water pollution that had been waiting for protection since 2004, and the Dakota skipper, a prairie butterfly that had been waiting since 1978. 

Candidate species are species that warrant federal protection but are placed on a waiting list where they do not receive any substantive protection. More than 40 species have gone extinct while waiting for protection.

The only species added to the candidate list this year was the Sierra Nevada red fox — the result of a 2011 center petition to protect the California alpine dweller.

Other animals still waiting on the list include the Pacific walrus, which is threatened by diminishing ice pack due to global climate change; the Hermes copper butterfly in San Diego; and the eastern population of the gopher tortoise, a keystone species in the longleaf pine habitat of the southeastern United States.

“Scientists agree that the planet’s currently undergoing a major extinction crisis, the sixth in Earth’s history,” said Curry. “The Endangered Species Act is one of the strongest laws any nation has to safeguard biological diversity in the face of ever-increasing threats.”

Although the Fish and Wildlife Service has reduced the candidate backlog, hundreds more species await consideration for protection.

The service acknowledged in its year-end notice that more than 500 species await a status review to determine if they warrant protection.

Oregon removes wolves from endangered species list

Oregon wildlife officials have voted to remove the gray wolf from the state’s Endangered Species Act list.

The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 to delist the wolves during meeting this week in Salem.

Eighty-one wolves now live in Oregon. State biologists said the species is not in danger of extinction here. But some independent scientists disagree with that conclusion.

While delisting wolves wouldn’t lead to immediate changes, more lethal measures could be allowed to manage them in the future.

The action has no effect on wolves in some areas further west, which are still protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Wolves in eastern Oregon were taken off the federal list four years ago.

Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director of The Humane Society of the United States, said the decision to delist wolves was not only premature, but also follows a disturbing pattern of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission waging war against our native carnivores.

He said, “Last month, the commission voted to allow trophy hunters and federal wildlife agents to kill more cougars and now it’s wolves facing arbitrary decisions that fly in the face of ethical conservation, ignore the best available science and are out of touch with modern society. These decisions are not aligned with responsible management and ignore Oregonian values.”

Some background from the Humane Society:

With fewer than 90 individuals, wolves are currently absent from most of their suitable range in Oregon.

Hunting cougars and wolves harms individuals and family groups. This killing especially leaves dependent young to die from starvation, predation and exposure, and affects subpopulations of both species.

On October 9, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission decided to permit the killing of all cougars who live in so-called “target zones” on 6,236 square miles of Oregon’s lands.

When persistently killed, large carnivores cannot achieve their work to balance healthy ecosystems.

Washington voters approve comprehensive measure against wildlife trafficking

Washington voters on Nov. 3 approved a measure to severely restrict the trade in parts of 10 species of animals threatened with extinction.

Initiated by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and backed by The Humane Society of the United States, the ballot measure bans the trade in the parts of elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, pangolins, leopards, cheetahs, sharks, rays and marine turtles and is the nation’s most comprehensive anti-wildlife-trafficking law enacted in any state.

The ballot measure passed in all 39 counties.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said in a news release, “This is an enormous momentum-builder for the movement in the United States to shut down the commerce in trinkets, powders and pelts that are driving some of the world’s most iconic creatures to the precipice of extinction. The animals need their tusks, horns, heads and hides more than we do, and Washington voters have given our movement a shot in the arm with this resounding vote.”

The political committee known as Save Endangered Animals Oregon, also led by The Humane Society of the United States, is seeking to qualify a similar initiative in Oregon and to pass it in 2016.

Volunteers have gathered a preliminary round of more than 1,500 signatures, which have been submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State.

A second, much larger, round of signature gathering could begin by the end of the year, with the goal of placing the Save Endangered Animals Oregon measure on the November 2016 ballot.

The Humane Society of the United States and its partners are working across the country to shut down the market for parts of these rare and threatened species. Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn, and in 2014, New Jersey and New York passed similar laws at our urging.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is working to adopt a final federal rule to stem the illegal ivory trade in the United States.

The U.S. is the second largest market for ivory products in the world after China. Last month, the president of China announced his country would replicate a U.S. ban on the commercial trade in ivory.

“With the efforts at the state and federal level in the United States and the decision by China to join our movement, we have an incredible opportunity to put a stop to the mass slaughter of elephants and other creatures around the world,” said Pacelle.