Policy Update

Maryland Passes Wildlife Trafficking Ban

April 22, 2022



NCEL Point of Contact

Ruth Musgrave
Conservation Senior Advisor


Maryland’s Wildlife Trafficking Prevention Act

On April 21, Maryland enacted a bill to ban wildlife trafficking within its borders. The bill passed both chambers of the legislature by overwhelming majorities. SB 381/HB 52, sponsored by Senator Will Smith and Delegate Sara Love, bans the sale, purchase, offer for sale, or the possession with intent to sell of certain parts or products of 17 animal species.

Some of the species include large apes, big cats, rhinos, pangolins and elephants. Restitution and fines collected for violation of the law will contribute to the preservation of endangered and threatened wildlife.

The Threats Posed by Wildlife Trafficking

Wildlife trafficking threatens security, puts vital species at risk of extinction, and can lead to the spread of wildlife diseases like COVID-19. Each year, as many as 15,000 elephants are killed in Africa to supply the global demand for ivory, causing an 86% decline in African forest elephants in just 31 years. Unfortunately, elephants aren’t the only species affected by wildlife trafficking; populations of rhinos, leopards, sharks, giraffes, and other species are being decimated to fuel the $20 billion per year wildlife trafficking industry. 

While the United States has put a near ban on the import and interstate wildlife trafficking of exotic and endangered species and parts, it is up to states to control trafficking within state borders. This year, six states are considering or have passed similar legislation to Maryland, including New York and California

Delegate Love is a recipient of NCEL’s 2021 Rising Environmental Leader Award and is currently serving as Maryland’s State Lead.