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One Million Pandas Urge U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service To Protect Elephants From Slaughter

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced today that more than one million Americans signed the organization's public comment petition in support of a new proposed rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to prevent illegal African elephant ivory from being imported and sold in the United States. This news comes at the heels of the joint statement made by the Chinese and U.S. governments on Friday signaling their commitment to close their ivory markets and curb illegal ivory trade.

WWF officially submitted the comments to the agency, and earlier today the organization handed over the petition and the accompanying signatures to USFWS in person. This represents WWF's most successful petition drive ever in the U.S., and the first time in the history of USFWS that the agency can confirm they have received more than one million comments on a proposed rule from a single organization.

“We've never had this many voices in a petition before. More than one million people have spoken in support of proposed new rules which would shut down the sale of illegal ivory in our country,” said WWF’s President and CEO Carter Roberts. "The illegal trade drove the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants last year. Crime syndicates and terrorist groups play a central role in this tragedy. It's time to act, and we urge the Administration to finalize the strongest possible rule and set an example for other ivory-consuming countries to follow."

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service greatly appreciates the ongoing efforts and support of WWF and the public to help us address the issue of illegal wildlife trafficking,” said USFWS Director Dan Ashe. “Petitions like the one delivered to us today underscore how important this issue is to the American public. We will make our final determination based on the best available information.”

Photos available here. Credit: © WWF-US/Rachel Kramer.