From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published September 10, 2013 02:16 PM

U.S. to Crush 6 Tons of Ivory

Ivory poaching and trafficking crimes continue to be a major problem not only in the United States, but around the world. So much so that in July of this year, President Barack Obama issued an order to combat the killing of protected wildlife, stop the trafficking, and reduce demand for illegal rhino horns and ivory. 

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In an effort to deal with this issue, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is lining up a public event that will crush nearly 6 tons of ivory which is currently being stored in a Denver, Colorado warehouse.

While most of the ivory is apprehended from black market smugglers, some is also taken from tourists returning to the U.S. When authorities seize ivory and other illegal wildlife trade like crocodile boots, bear claws, and tiger heads, it goes to the National Wildlife Property Repository — at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City.

Sadly, the warehouse is so full with ivory that no longer fits on shelves. Piles of tusks and boxes full of bracelets and trinkets clutter the floor. Forklifts are used to clear pathways between heavy pallets of the plunder.

Grinding up all ivory in October "will make more room in our warehouse," said repository supervisor Bernadette Atencio. However, Atencio fears it will fill again soon.

The African elephant "is a species that could very easily disappear, become extinct," Atencio said. "But we can be an example and hope others follow."

"Our experience is that the only way to end this trade is to get international support. That's the goal of what we're doing with this crush," said Steve Oberholtzer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special-agent-in-charge based in Denver, who is lining up rock-grinders to pulverize the ivory in October.

Federal authorities plan to save pieces of crushed ivory to use in a memorial — in Washington D.C. or another appropriate location — to the tens of thousands of elephants kill.

U.S. officials also plan to give $10 million to help fight poaching in Africa and will try to persuade Asian governments to outlaw trinkets and other products made from elephant ivory. Tactics being considered include use of cellphone technology to monitor elephants, social media campaigning in China and cooperation with companies such as eBay to curb commerce.

Read more at The Denver Post.

Elephant tusk image via Shutterstock.

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