By MARINA STARLEAF RIKER
HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii lawmakers seem poised to ban the sale of ivory to help stop elephant poaching halfway across the world, despite objections from local businesses and artists.
Animal rights groups say Hawaii has the third-largest ivory market in the nation and could become the largest if left unregulated.
In response, similar bills are being considered in both houses of the Hawaii Legislature that would ban the sale of certain wild animal parts, which include elephant ivory. The bills include some exemptions, including for the age of the ivory and cultural uses.
Bills in previous years have failed, largely because of pushback from local ivory merchants.
The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife says African elephant poaching has reached its highest level since international organizations began keeping track in 2002.