Etsy updated its Prohibited Items policy this week to ban the listing of items made from certain animals, such as those designated as threatened or endangered. This includes (but is not limited to) fur, pelts, ivory, teeth, bones and taxidermied specimens.
Specifically, the site bans products made from bear, cheetah, chimpanzee, chinchilla, elkhorn and staghorn coral, cougar, eagle, elephant, gorilla, jaguar, lemur, leopard, lion, lynx, monkey, ocelot, rhino, seal, sea lion, tiger, wallaby, whale and zebra.
Additionally, the site prohibits the listing or sale of items derived from or created using any animal species designated as threatened or endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. That full list can be found here.
Even if users have permits that allow them to acquire, possess or sell an animal species from the list, it is still prohibited on Etsy. They do, however, make an exception for Native Alaskans who are exempt from restrictions under Section 10e of the US Endangered Species Act. Here's what Etsy says about that in an FAQ:
Etsy values the preservation of traditional Native Alaskan cultures. For this reason, we’ve made an exception to our prohibited species policy for authentic articles of Native Alaskan crafts that are exempt under US law.
Sellers who list items on Etsy under this exception warrant that their items qualify and are in compliance with all relevant laws, including, but not limited to, the Endangered Species Act, the Whaling Convention Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.
All restrictions apply to those who do not live in the U.S., as well. The rules apply to both new products as well as vintage/antique or "pre-ban" items.
"The risk that the legal status of these items may be unknown or mislabeled is too great, and continued sale of these items, though potentially legal, stands to perpetuate market demand and further jeopardize the existence of these species," says Etsy's Lauren Engelhardt in a blog post.
The changes are effective immediately. The company says it is contacting users who may have violating listings about the changes, and that some listings may need to be removed. Indeed there are still some up:
Etsy's move to eliminate these items has won praise from the IFAW (INternational Fund for Animal Welfare). The organization's North America Regional Director Jeff Flocken issued the following statement today:
Congratulations to Etsy for stepping up to the plate in prohibiting the sale of ivory and all other products made from endangered species. By reconsidering its wildlife policies, Etsy joins eBay as a leader in saving wildlife on the web. eBay voluntarily banned all animal ivory from its sites globally in 2008 after the release of the IFAW investigative report, Killing with Keystrokes. Now other web platforms like Craigslist, Bonanza and Google Shop should follow suit and do the same. Just last week on these three sites IFAW found ivory, live parrots and tortoises, monkey bone, and even rhino horn, all available for sale. We hope that these websites will follow the example of Etsy and eBay and move quickly to put an end to the illicit wildlife trade occurring on-line.
The Killing With Keystrokes report is available here.