Washington voters on Tuesday approved anti-wildlife-trafficking Initiative I-1401 in a landslide - 71 percent to 29 percent.
I-1401, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and The Humane Society of the United States, would prohibit the sale, purchase, trading, or distribution of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, shark, or ray species listed as endangered or vulnerable, including items made from listed species.
The HSUS said it is the nation's most comprehensive anti-wildlife-trafficking law enacted in any state.
"This is an enormous momentum-builder for the movement in the United States to shut down the commerce in trinkets, powders and pelts that are driving some of the world's most iconic creatures to the precipice of extinction," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS.
Critics believe I-1401 will do little to impact the black market of illegal animal product trade, but the HSUS says the U.S. is the second largest market for ivory products in the world after China.
During China President Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S. in September, the White House announced that the two countries have agreed to commit to enact nearly complete bans on ivory import and export, including significant restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies and to take significant steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.
The two countries also decided to cooperate in joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on combating wildlife trafficking, and enhance international law enforcement cooperation.
"With the efforts at the state and federal level in the United States, and the decision by China to join our movement, we have an incredible opportunity to put a stop to the mass slaughter of elephants and other creatures around the world," Pacelle said after Tuesday after Washington voters passed I-1401.
"The animals need their tusks, horns, heads and hides more than we do, and Washington voters have given our movement a shot in the arm with this resounding vote."