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WWF, TRAFFIC Applaud New York City Law as First of Its Kind To Crack Down on Illegal Sales of Endangered Species

Washington - New York City today became the first municipality in the United States to approve a law making it illegal to buy or sell products containing, or advertised as containing, endangered species.

The law, passed by the City Council today and awaiting the mayor's signature, follows an undercover investigation in New York last spring by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of World Wildlife Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. The investigation found illegal products widely available claiming to contain endangered species, including tigers, rhinos, leopards and musk deer.

Simon Habel, director of TRAFFIC, issued the following statement today:

"New York City is a significant market for endangered species products, particularly packaged traditional Chinese medicines containing or claiming to contain tiger bone, rhino horn, and other highly endangered species. TRAFFIC believes that New York City, by being the first to pass this type of law at the city level, can lead by example for other cities where wildlife trade threatens endangered species.

"Though federal legislation like the Endangered Species Act makes interstate commerce of endangered species products illegal, it does not apply to sales within a city. The new law would close local loopholes within New York City by making the sale of products containing, or labeled as containing, endangered species a violation of city law and give New York City enforcement officials the authority to take action."

"This bill meets an important need in the global effort to combat illegal wildlife trade. Consumers and merchants now must do their part by not buying these products, which fuels demand for the illegal killing of these species in the wild."

* Read "A Tale of Two Cities A Comparative Study of Traditional Chinese Medicine Markets in San Francisco and New York City" (PDF, 421k)