(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace proposed to help protect threatened animals from extinction by banning the transport of game trophies of threatened or endangered species through airports and facilities controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
Since the airports and facilities controlled by the Port Authority – Newark Liberty International, J.F.K and LaGuardia – are some of the most heavily traveled routes back to the U.S. from countries in Africa, Eustace hope the ban will serve as a disincentive for killing endangered animals for sport.
“This ban would cut off a link back to the United States for game hunters’ intent on importing the dead carcasses of endangered animals,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Hopefully making it more difficult for these types of hunters to transport their ‘prizes’ will give them pause or perhaps even make them reconsider this type of inhumane activity.”
Eustace said the news last year of the tragic demise of Cecil the lion illustrates how globally connected our ecosystems are in this day and age and underscores the need to improve our conservation efforts, both at home and abroad.
“There’s only so much we can do on a state level, but by banning the import of endangered game trophies, we can have a major impact,” Eustace continued.
The bill (A-2510) prohibits the import, export, shipment, receipt, possession, processing, sale, offer for sale, or transport of the parts or products of priority species at airports or port facilities owned or operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
A priority species is any species or subspecies appearing on the list of wildlife determined by the New Jersey Commissioner of Environmental Protection to be endangered, appearing on the list of nongame species regulated by the commissioner, appearing on any federal list of endangered or threatened species or proposed to be included on any such list, and any big five African species.
The big five African species are the African elephant, African leopard, African lion, black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo.
Any person in violation of the bill would be guilty of a fourth degree crime and would be subject to imprisonment for up to 18 months and a fine of up to $100,000. Upon conviction, any property used in connection with the violation would be forfeited and disposed of in a manner consistent with the best interest of the public. Any penalty imposed under the bill would be in addition to any penalty that may be imposed pursuant to any other applicable law.
Another Eustace bill advanced Thursday (A-2447) would prohibit possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of animal species threatened with extinction.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale or shipment of: (1) any big five African species or the parts or products of those species; and (2) any species or subspecies of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, or ray listed: (a) in Appendix I or Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; or (b) as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species, or the parts or products of those species or subspecies.
A person who violates the bill would be subject to the penalties set forth in the “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act.”
Specifically, a violator would be guilty of a crime of the third degree, and be subject to a criminal fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, a civil penalty of up to $25,000, and a civil administrative penalty of up to $25,000 per day of violation, as well as other penalties. Notwithstanding these penalties, a person who possesses wildlife in violation of the bill and who fails to obtain a certificate of possession within 180 days after the effective date, would be subject only to a civil penalty of up to $25 for each day that person possesses the prohibited wildlife without a certificate.
The bills were approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.