Nevada bill on products from poached animals evolves with hunters’ input

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Khalil Senosi / AP

In this Saturday July 18, 2009 file photo, a Kenya Wildlife Service warden stands in a storage room holding elephant ivory impounded since 1989. Stringent laws in place on the West Coast are said to push traffickers into Nevada, where there are few regulations.

Wed, May 3, 2017 (2 a.m.)

CARSON CITY — A proposed ban on in-state sales of shark fins and ivory is getting closer to its final version as supporters hear from sportsmen and gun groups.

Senate Bill 194 creates state penalties for trading in products made of illegally obtained shark fin or any species of elephant, rhinoceros and a dozen others. Removable grips to knives and firearms have been a point of contention and are the subject of the measure’s most recent proposed amendment, heard Tuesday by the Assembly’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, sponsored the bill and said the newly proposed language seeks to clarify that the bill would not apply to a “fixed or integral part” of a knife or firearm that does not account for more than 20 percent of the weapon’s value.

The bill has been amended from listing sharks to specifically targeting poachers of the fins, which Denis said keeps any found shark teeth out of the bill’s scope. He says amendments have been drafted with input from sportsmen and gun groups including the NRA.

Denis said a similar measure didn’t move forward in 2015, and he’s working to make sure this bill doesn’t unintentionally affect people who hunt legally.

“It’s come a long ways in trying to address all the different needs there, and I think that we’ve gotten to where we’ve been able to address those issues,” Denis said Tuesday.

A representative of the Nevada Firearms Coalition told the committee that the proposed amendment seeks to address the group’s issues with the bill, but that some concern remained about the 20 percent value. The group is neutral on the bill.

Federal law does not stretch to in-state trade of products targeted by the bill, and supporters say the measure would close that loophole.

Denis said the bill targets the most highly trafficked species around the world. This illegal trade, he told lawmakers Tuesday, leads to unsustainable declines in populations and can be tied to other criminal industries as well.

Catherine Smith and Stacy James of the nonprofit group Dazzle Africa are helping to push the legislation. They say demand in the United States is a major driver of poaching abroad.

Supporters say similar laws that are in place on the West Coast push traffickers into Nevada and other states that have few or nonexistent regulations.

Nevada’s Senate previously voted 14-6 to send the amended version of the bill to the Assembly, where the committee will decide whether to pass the proposed change and send it to the floor for another vote.

Also included in the bill are products with any species of tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, mammoth, narwhal, walrus or hippopotamus.

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