US authorities announced a near-total ban on the trade of African elephant ivory Thursday, finalizing a years-long push to protect the endangered animals.
"Today's bold action underscores the United States' leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it's having on wild populations," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said.
The new rule "substantially limits" imports, exports and sales of such ivory across state lines, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said.
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However, it does make exceptions for some "pre-existing manufactured" items, such as musical instruments, furniture and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory and meet other specific criteria, according to the FWS.
Antiques, as defined under the Endangered Species Act, are also exempt.
The new measures fulfill restrictions in an executive order on combating wildlife trafficking issued by President Barack Obama in 2013, the FWS said in its statement announcing the ban.
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