© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Illinois Takes Tough Stand Against Illegal Animal Trade

A full giraffe hide for sale at The African Market Trophy Room Collection, Myakka FL, March 2018.
A full giraffe hide for sale at The African Market Trophy Room Collection, Myakka FL, March 2018.

The Prairie State will have the most expansive ban in the nation on the sale of endangered and threatened species after a law Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed this summer takes effect in January. That’s according to the Illinois director of the Humane Society of the United States.

The legislation expands on a 2018 ban on sales of ivory from elephants and rhinoceros. The law now Includes the sale of products made from bone, skin, scales or other body parts of: cheetahs, giraffes, great ape, hippopotami, jaguars, leopards, lions, monk seals, narwhals, pangolins. rays or sharks, sea turtles, tigers, walruses and whales.

Marc Ayers, who directs the Humane Society’s Illinois branch, said, “Illicit wildlife outfits that try and sell products and parts from threatened and endangered species are always trying to find new markets to sell in.”

There’s a $20 billion illegal wildlife trade, and the U.S. is a major contributor, including the import 40,000 giraffe parts and products, such as skins made into boots, pillows and chairs, according to the Humane Society. Since the early ’90s, the African lion population has declined by more than 40 percent.

The most highly trafficked mammal, according to the Humane Society, is the pangolin, an African and Asian animal with a long sticky tongue for catching insects. The pangolin is sought for its horny scales.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said,

“It's very important that we protect them so that so that people can't be trying to profit off of these animals and literally wiping out a species of animal.”

State Rep. Marty Moylan sponsored the bill in the House. “We started researching, working with the Humane Society and found out that there is more animals that really are suffering and are in danger. And it's up to us to protect the animals of this planet.”

Ayers said, “As different countries and other states crackdown by passing legislation and reforms to combat the wild animal trade, these illicit markets are always trying to find the next place to sell and peddle their product in.”

Copyright 2021 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS. To see more, visit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney
Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.