New Jersey lawmaker moves to ban commerce involving endangered animals

 Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park in Hwange, Zimbabwe. The animal was killed by an American dentist who lured it into a kill zone. (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit via AP)

Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park in Hwange, Zimbabwe. The animal was killed by an American dentist who lured it into a kill zone. (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit via AP)

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to ban the transport, possession, and sale of animals threatened with extinction.

The slaughter of endangered animals by trophy hunters is unnecessary and must be stopped, said State Sen. Ray Lesniak.

“New Jersey is a source of importing trophy hunting, of course our huge ports and out airports, and a lot of this sport — so to speak — are from wealthy individuals, New Jersey being the second wealthiest state in the nation,” he said. “So we’re a center point of this problem.”

Even though three airlines have banned the shipment of animals killed by trophy hunters, Lesniak, D-Union, said the bill is necessary.

“They could change their policies at any time,” he said. “We also have ships coming into ports as well here, so wherever they attempt to come in, we’re going to have to stop it.”

To protect elephants, New Jersey already bans importing ivory. The recent killing of Cecil the lion in Africa highlights the need for additional measures, Lesniak said.

His bill calls for fines up to $50,000.

“We believe that will be a deterrent because they’re not only against the individual who would receive the endangered species but also the transporter,” he said. “So there’s no reason for them to continue to allow this practice.”

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