COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - U.S. officials on Thursday destroyed more than 6 tons of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry - the bulk of the U.S. "blood ivory" stockpile - and urged other nations to follow suit to fight a $10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year.
Thousands of ivory items accumulated over the past 25 years were piled into a large pyramid-shaped mound, then dumped into a steel rock crusher that pulverized it all into dust and tiny chips at the National Wildlife Property Repository just north of Denver.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will donate the particles to a yet-to-be-determined museum for display.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers carry confiscated ivory to a crusher to be pulverized, at the National Wildlife Property Repository, at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, in Commerce City, Colo., Thursday.
"These stockpiles of ivory fuel the demand. We need to crush the stores of ivory worldwide," said agency director Dan Ashe. He said keeping stockpiles intact can feed consumer demand for illegal souvenirs and trinkets taken from slain elephants.
Before the crush, Fish and Wildlife officials showed off thousands of confiscated ivory tusks, statues, ceremonial bowls, masks and ornaments - a collection they said represented the killing of more than 2,000 adult elephants.