Wild River Custom Knives and Scrimshaw

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  1. >Isn't ivory illegal?


    The answer is both no and yes. This is because ivory carries different levels of restriction depending on the type.


    –Prehistoric mammoth and mastodon ivory are completely legal and carry no restrictions. In the U.S., anyone can dig up mammoth and mastodon ivory as long as they have a permit and the material comes from non-archeological sites.


    -Modern wart hog and elk "whistler" ivory (the top two canine teeth) are also unrestricted.


    -Modern (or white) walrus ivory is generally less than a hundred years old. White walrus ivory can only be purchased from a native Alaskan and the ivory must also have some form of native work on it, carved or scrimshawed. It is not legal to buy or sell any unworked fresh walrus ivory. The exception to this are tusks with a copper tag attached that have a serial number on the tag. These tusks are from an Alaska state culling program from the 1960's and they are legal to buy, sell and trade across state lines in their natural, unworked form as long as the tag is there.


    -Fossil, fossilized, (ancient) walrus ivory generally ranges from 300 to 3,000 years in age and is most often excavated from the Alaskan permafrost in August and September of each year. Only native peoples are allowed to dig for fossil walrus ivory on their lands. Once purchased from them it can be sold and resold across state lines without restriction.


    –Ivory from African elephants can no longer be imported into the US per the "CITES" treaty; however, any elephant ivory already within the US prior to June 9, 1989 is legal to buy and sell across most state lines unless prohibited by a specific state law, as in California. Check your state laws to determine if there are any differences to existing federal law.


    –The sale of whale teeth and bone are tightly restricted. According to The Endangered Species Act of 1973 and USFWS officials, any sale or offer to sell whale teeth or bone carries a $12,000 fine - per act - and possible imprisonment. All other marine mammals and their body parts are considered protected under the "Marine Mammal Protection Act," and similar restrictions apply. The legal sale of sperm whale teeth falls into the following three catagories according to articles of The Endangered Species Act of 1973 under SEC.10, (f)(1)(A)(ii), (B); (f)(6)(D); and (h)(1)(A). 1) Antique - is any tooth that has been determined to be 100 years old or older, dating back from 1972 (1872 or older). This ivory is legal to buy and sell across state lines in any form. If you purchase an antique or pre-banned whale’s tooth, you should expect that the seller will include a Certificate of Exemption for the tooth and/or a Certification of Subsequent Seller/Shipper/Exporter. These required federal forms prove that the tooth has been certified as legal for resale and meets the requirements for resale in the U.S. 2) Pre-Act Teeth - are teeth that date from 1872 to 1972 and are covered by a U.S. government exemption certificate. These teeth are legal to buy and sell if they are accompanied by a U.S. government exemption certificate, but cannot be shipped across state lines in their raw form (they must be carved, engraved or scrimshawed). 3) Any other teeth that were in the country prior to 1972 and not covered by an exemption certificate - These teeth must at the very least be accompanied by a notarized statement from the seller stating that they were in his/her possession, in this country, prior to the 1972 moratorium. These teeth cannot be sent across state lines for commercial resale. The scrimshander must buy these teeth, work on them, and sell them only within his/her state of residence and then only if such purchase and sale is legal under the laws of his/her state.


    –The only completely illegal ivory at the present time is Indian elephant; this animal is considered highly endangered because there are few to none left in the wild. They are almost totally zoo or circus-bred animals, or are domesticated beasts of burden in India

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