This week, Senator Henry Stern (CA) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (NY) have announced plans to introduce bills that aim to ban live animal markets and the trade of wildlife in their respective states as a measure to prevent future pandemics similar to COVID-19—which is thought to have originated in a wet animal market in Wuhan, China late last year. Stern and Rosenthal are working with animal protection group Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), which in turn is partnering with animal-rights groups People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and WildAid in order to make the end of live animal markets and wildlife trade a global movement. “Time is of the essence to do away with the unacceptably cruel status quo which has cast a dark shadow over the entire world through COVID-19,” SCIL Founder and President Judie Mancuso said. “As with our other sponsored legislation, California and New York can be models for the rest of the world.”

In California, Stern is introducing SB 1175 which aims to ban the sale and import of wild animals that pose a risk of zoonotic disease transmission, along with “trophy hunted” species such as lions, tigers, and rhinoceros. “We need to stop the brutal trade in exotic and endangered wildlife once and for all,” Stern (D-Los Angeles) said. ”Whether it’s a pangolin being sold for faulty medicine, a white Bengal tiger being enslaved for entertainment, or a black rhino ‘trophy’ used to satisfy some misguided hunter‘s ego, California must put an end to wildlife trafficking.” 

In New York, Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) is working on similar legislation that aims to shut down the state’s more than 80 live animal markets. “It shouldn’t take a pandemic to put an end to animal cruelty,” Rosenthal said. “COVID-19 has made plain that filthy live animal markets are breeding grounds for disease, in addition to animal torture, and have no place in New York.” To date, Rosenthal has passed more than 20 laws focused on animal welfare while representing the 67th Assembly District.

Last week, 255 doctor members of medical group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) took similar action by filing a Petition for Rulemaking with the US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, demanding a ban on stateside live animal markets. Shortly thereafter, 66 members of the US Congress—led by vegan Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham—sent a demand letter asking the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the World Organization of Animal Health to shut down wet markets and the wildlife trade worldwide in an effort to prevent future pandemics.

Photo Credit: Sangha Pangolin Project 

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